Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Critique Groups

As I go about this journey called writing, I find invaluable things along the way. One of those things is a critique group. I'm blessed to be a part of a wonderful group of ladies, each with their own unique style and forte they bring with them. But I didn't always feel that way.

When I first started meeting with them, I kind of had a bad attitude. They bloodied what I thought was really good work. I was hurt. Well, my pride anyway. For the next couple of weeks, I came up with excuses not to attend. (There it's out. I've finally said it. And if any of you ladies are reading this, I'm sorry)

Eventually, I did go back, and I am so glad I did. Unlike me, these women weren't there to lord over me and my writing. They were there to help me. Push me. I'll never forget the night we'd gone around the room and I'd received some wonderful comments on my chapter. Then my sweet friend Ronie throws this at me--"I just didn't feel it." Grrrrrr.

Since then, I've not only grown to love these women, but to value their input. They're from different walks of life and write everything from prairie romance to space operas (yeah, I'm still trying to figure that one out too. I mean, no one actually sings in the book). Jane's an English teacher. Boy does that help with the grammar stuff.

So how does one choose a critique group that works for them? There are different types of crit groups. Some are online, and many times have people from around the country. While these can be good, imperative if you live in a remote area, I find face-to-face crit groups give you better feedback. For starters, you hear people's reactions, especially if you read your work out loud as we do in our group. Crit groups can often be found through your local RWA or ACFW chapter.

Once you've found a group, send your ego on a vacation. Sometimes critiques can be harsh. Now let's be clear, there's a difference between mean and harsh. Mean generally just says what you did wrong. I'm right, you're not, your work stinks. Harsh, on the other hand, is meant to better you. To push you and take your writing to another level.

Try the group out a couple of times. If you're not comfortable with the people, maybe it's not the place for you. You need to be able to express yourself and share your ideas. A critique group should be a place of nurturing. If it ain't there, move on. They'll only drag you down.

When you've found a group that works for you, it's like coming home. You look forward to sharing with these people. And remember, you'll be critiquing them, too. You'll bring your own uniqueness and specialty to the table.

Have you found your perfect crit home? If so, how do you benefit from it? Where would you be without it?



  1. I did finally:-) I have a really great crit partner that took me a few years to find. She doesn't know how great she is yet. I'm going to tell her:-)

    I benefit because I trust her. This is so hard for me anyway, but trusting someone with my dreams, well...that's seriously personal.

    I would be less confident without her. She is such an encourager and a blessing. She is an answer to prayer.


  2. Lindi and I have been part of a foursome for several years. The group has morphed to fit our changing needs. Each has her own gifts to bring to the group. They've all been a blessing to me as well.

    I've also critiqued one-on-one with people. That's been great, too, for bouncing ideas off someone or when you need a quick turnaround or fresh set of eyes.

    Thanks to any of you who have critiqued my work!