Riding the roller coaster of emotions: the OMG, my story is awesome! and the Another rejection? My story sucks! does something to one's objectivity towards their own work.
So, employ the objectivity of someone else.
A Beta reader could be a friend or family member. But remember, they love you.
"Does this dress make me look fat?" Even if you seek an honest answer to the question, would they tell you? Remember, they won't want to hurt your feelings. Best find someone else, perhaps a member of one of the writer's forums you are a member of? Maybe someone with a cool screen name and avatar...
And since critiquing will only help you grow as a writer, how about swapping stories?
Okay, you've got the first 50 pages of your new crit partner's manuscript in your inbox. Eager to dive in and hopefully enjoy a good story whilst making suggestions for an awkward sentence here and there, you expect to be finished and have it sent back within the hour.
Uh oh. The dress really DOES make that person look fat. Do you say so? Or do you add a silk scarf, some bling, to draw the eye upwards?
What if the manuscript you are critiquing reads so much like a first draft from NaNo that you are on comment number 245 and it's only page 31?
How to Take a Critiquing and Keep on Ticking
"Sorry. The dress is really not right."
I opted to tell the writer where I, as a reader, was left feeling frustrated, confused and bored. I broke the critiquing golden rule of sandwiching a criticism in between two compliments (although I did comment positively in the parts I did enjoy), and although I tried to make my criticism constructive, I'm pretty sure I fell short. I do feel bad about that.
But should I feel guilty? Depends. If the writer was only looking for compliments on her dress, then I might. If she is truly looking to be published someday (aren't we all?) then I hope she'll accept my critique for what it is.
I don't pretend to know all about writing, but everyone who reads knows when a story doesn't "work".
I wished I'd got back an honest "Yes, the dress does make you look fat" from my partner. I hope she wasn't just being nice when she said how much she enjoyed the story and wanted to keep reading. How will I know?
Where to find Beta Reader:
Forward Motion Writers Community Forums (free membership required)
QueryTracker.net Forums (Free membership required)