Critique Groups and Writing

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At some time or another in a writer’s path to publication, we will need input. Maybe when we were children, it worked to show our new story to a beloved teacher or relative, but it doesn’t work the same as adults. For some of us, going for an MFA or Masters of Fine Arts, is a path to feedback and publication, with likeminded professors and peers helping with the journey. Most of us find another way.

We can’t rely on Auntie Sue or Dear Husband for reliable feedback. Not really. Relatives and friends, unless they’ve published successfully in your genre are going to give you a bill of goods on that WIP. Sure, Auntie Sue was an AP English teacher or friend Trixie is a willing beta reader, but they won’t tell you where to “Kill your darlings” and tighten your narrative. They’re afraid of hurting your feelings or worried about permanently ruining a perfectly lovely relationship with you. Maybe they’ve got personal prejudices about you even trying to write. It all makes for a bad stew.

You can have thousands of “friends” on Facebook and Twitter, and yet most won’t be the least bit helpful unless they’re part of a critique group. A good critique group. Your critique group.

Some people belong to online groups, some local, some have professional mentors, and some have none but talented fellow writers. No matter where you live, a good critique group can help make dreams a reality.

Don’t have one locally, but want to start one? I’ll post some links later to help with that.

Thinking about joining one, but don’t know what to look for? The same links will help with that too.

If you’re in one, but it’s a bad fit, find another. Or start one. If possible find a critique group in your specific genre. Some genres cross, but you need to know what works for you specifically.

Critique groups should stay small, with four to six people, and should never feel like time is dragging. Not enough time for everyone to share their WIP? It’s too big of a group. After all that work of getting your baby edited and dressed, it’s a bit crushing to not get it covered.

Good luck.

Some places to get started and good articles to read:

http://www.lifehack.org/articles/lifestyle/how-to-start-a-writing-critique-group.html

http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/there-are-no-rules/guest-post/4-ways-to-make-the-most-of-a-critique-group

http://janefriedman.com/2014/01/17/build-writing-group-community/

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