Friends are the worst when it comes to critiques.
Not that they are bad at finding our faults, its that they are too worried usually about hurting our feelings to give us the real information. If the story sucks they have a hard time telling us so, because they don't want us to feel bad after putting our hearts and souls into whatever it was we wrote.
I've finished my second draft of Immortalis and sent it to three friends to read. All three started the piece and now more than a month later only one has finished. The other two while giving glowing reviews of the pages they have read so far, have found many excuses, claiming they just can't find the time to sit down and read. This leads me to the obvious conclusion that there is a problem with my story. Perhaps it doesn't flow well in some areas. Perhaps I have droned on about something that shouldn’t belong in the story. Whatever it is, I need to know in order to fix it.
When questioned, these friends hem and haw about just needing more time. They tell me the story is wonderful and they promise to read it soon. Of course the end result is the story doesn't get read and a few more weeks go by and the cycle of lies continue.
While I appreciate their attempt to spare my feelings, no amount of feeling sparing will perfect my novel to submit to agents.
Its time to find some new beta readers. I need a critiquing circle of strangers who aren't afraid to rip my work to shreds and help me see where all of the problems are.
I've been searching around the internet and found a few places online that might suit my needs.
I'll be looking at these a little more closely in the weeks to come. I need someone with an honest opinion and a really big red pen to look over my work.