This past Saturday, I met with my critique group. I’ve known most of these writers a good few years and so it was great to see all of them and catch up with them on their work.
One of the writers just signed a contract and she brought her LONG editorial letter. Another one is getting her illustrations back for her picture book. There are lot of great things going on with my group.
During one of my bookstore browses, I found an interesting craft book, The Writing and Critique Group Survival Guide by Becky Levine. There seems to be a lot of good advice on how to start a critique group, what kind of critique group is right for you, and learning how to receive feedback.
Critique groups are tricky because learning to critique I believe is something you get from experience. Also learning to take and listen to critiques can be something you get better with in time.
For the next two weeks, I’m going to share with you some of my critique group experiences and what I learned.
This week, I’m going to talk about what makes a good critique group (for me, at least):
Consists of published writers and aspiring writers. I love that the writers in my critique group are published and/or writing under contract. I learn from their experiences. But also having aspiring writers in your group can be beneficial as well. These emerging writers can look at work more as readers which is very important.
Writers who write in my genre. I’ve tried to be in critique groups where I was the only YA or MG writer and it was hard for the group to evaluate my work. It helps if you can find writers who write in the same genre. If you write mysteries, try to find mystery writers. Romance? Find romance writers. Sometimes having not to worry about explaining the nuances of the genre saves time and eliminates confusion.
Having a group leader or mediator. Sometimes this is usually the founder or even can be a writer mentor and/or teacher. It helps to have someone in charge of the session (if meeting in person). This is not a requirement if you’re working in a small group or with a partner, but having a critique leader helps to keep members on subject and makes the session go smoothly. This position can also be rotated if necessary.
Writers of good disposition. We all know that writers are “artists” but that doesn’t mean that they have to be “a**holes.” It helps if the writers in your group have a good personality and can take comments and critique on their work. This is why we meet with critique groups. To find ways to make our work stronger. Not to argue about it.
Next week, I’ll talk about how I approach critiques and then I’ll wrap up the following week with how I receive critique feedback.
Would love to hear from writers about their own critique group experiences and what they look for in a critique group.