25 June 2013

Critique Groups

The publishing industry has undergone a lot of growing pains in the last few years. One result of this, IMHO, is critique groups are more important than ever for writers. Why? Because writers need another set of eyes on their work, so they can discover what's really on the page--as opposed to what they think is on the page.

I freely admit getting critique is tough. It's difficult to hear that one's writing, one's baby, is not perfect. And sometimes, feedback isn't helpful. In general, critique should be about how something is written, not what is written.

Here are some critique group tips from Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers:

  • Offering Critique:
    • Begin with positive comments.
    • Comments should be specific and about things like viewpoint, structure, characters, word choice, etc.
    • Note any confusion you had as a reader and/or questions that were raised.
    • Be sure you separate the character/narrator from the author. Don't assume the author is the character/narrator.
    • Comment on the work itself, and not the subject matter or related philosophies, etc.
    • End with something positive.
  • Receiving Critique:
    • Just listen and/or take notes. Do not argue, explain or defend.
    • Don't be intimidated or depressed by the feedback. Honest feedback is a valuable tool for improving one's writing.
    • Don't take everyone's critique as gospel. You are the boss of your writing. Don't make changes before careful consideration.
    • If a critique group isn't working for you, by all means, quit and look for another group.
How do you find a group? Local writers groups have critique groups. Many public libraries have writer's critique groups. There are also a lot of online groups. See, for example, the compilation at: "Online Writing Groups, Writing Communities and Critique Groups".

Good luck!

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