Thursday, March 20, 2008

Critique Groups

Since I've been writing (and especially after I sold), I got a lot of questions from other writers about critique groups/partners. Until recently I wasn't a member of a "group" per se in that the group didn't meet regularly and discuss/plot/critique. My critiquing up to that point had been by email or phone call - especially since a couple of the people I critique with are in another states.

I've been asked what makes a good critique partner/group and when to know you need a new group, etc.

To me the answer is easy - a good critique partner/group takes the time to learn your style and voice and doesn't try to change it with their advice. The group should NEVER tell you how to write your book - EVER! They should instead tell you where your technique went faulty or was missing altogether - where your plot fell apart - inconsistencies in your story - when they don't have a connection to a main character - when they are confused by the story.

Most importantly, and the thing that is often missed by cp's is that they should tell you what you're doing RIGHT and encourage you to do more of it. Every missed opportunity for your voice to shine is a missed opportunity to wow an editor or an agent.

Granted, these are only a few of the things you should be thinking about when selecting or continuing with a group or partner, but your career is on the line here - thinking you might hurt someone's feeling should be the very last reason you continue with a group or partner that's no forwarding your career.


Tori Lennox said...

I've never had an in-person critique group. All my writing friends are scattered to the four winds. :)

Even though they were friends, I was scared to death the first time I submitted my work for critique. Sooo nerve-wracking! I wanted it to be perfect beforehand. Now I don't care. *g*

Jana DeLeon said...

yeah tori - i usually haven't done my final-final edit when i send my stuff out for review. Why get all worried over commas when the comments come back and you might be changing the content anyway. :)

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