Monday, November 29, 2010

Critique Groups

Critique Groups
Because I have published only in the magazine world and do not have a book contract yet (notice the YET), I’m always second-guessing myself in my stories. Have I developed strong characters? Do I have a compelling situation? Does my protagonist have a main goal? Do I have a sneaky, slithery, slimy opponent in the story? Are there enough obstacles in the story?
To answer these questions, I have joined several critique groups. (I NEVER get in over my head.)
The group I have been part of the longest has eight writers in it, and we meet each week. Each person passes out five pages every week for the next week’s discussion. The next week every person comments on their critique for each set of five pages. Wonderful synergistic dialogues ensue in this group. These people are dedicated to learning their craft. One member has two published books and another has a book contract. Several have won writing contests.
Another group I belong to meets monthly to discuss an entire manuscript and render a critical evaluation. There is something to be said for reading a whole book at once. You pick up details and problems you don’t see with just a few pages each week. These writers are dedicated also. Three of them have published in magazines and newspapers, and one has a couple of short stories in a seasonal books.
The last group I belong to is a picture book group. (I LOVE writing picture books!) In this group we email our monthly writing and discuss our critiques from our computers when we meet. (We’re going green!) We have a published author in that group also.
If you are a serious writer, find a critique group to belong to. (You don’t need to join three!) Check with the League of Utah Writers in your area. The feedback you get is very helpful, and you make wonderful friends that really understand the process you are involved in. (They’re great to cheer you up when you get rejections letters and celebrate with you in your successes.)

5 comments:

Dawn said...

Wow! That's great. I have trouble with one crit group - we meet weekly, and I LOVE my crit partner, but it's hard to make that amount of time every week. That's some solid commitment!

Linda Garner said...

I Love Love Love critique groups. They have been so helpful to me.

Honesty is essential in a crit group, along with a bit of tact. If I had to choose between honesty and tact, I'd take honesty. LG

N. R. Williams said...

Great advice. I belong to two critique groups. One meets on the 2nd and 4th Tuesdays of the month. The other is online. Another thing I find that you didn't mention is the ability to toss about ideas. So if your stuck, you can ask for help. There should be a writers group in your area. I'd Google, writers group and see what you come up with. In Colorado, we have several. I belong to Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers.
Nancy
N. R. Williams, fantasy author

ali said...

LOL, I wondered if your "NEVER get in over [your] head" was said tongue-in-cheek. Hmm ...

I love my critique group. LOVE them. And the betas who read my finished MS's are invaluable. And not just for writing help, either.

They keep me afloat when the floods of disappointment and doubt come my way.

Lenny Lee* said...

hi miss christy! im just learning how to be a critiquer. i got a neat critique partner and so far i did one critique for her and shes critiquing a story for me now. i did one for a kids story that a blogger asked me to do cause of me being more young. she said i did real good on it. :) im seeing how doing this critique stuff is a real big help in making stuff lots better.
...smiles from lenny