How to Find a Critique Group
|Some groups provide lots of written comments!|
Writers’ organizations. If you belong to a writers guild or other writers’ organization, they may have ongoing critique groups or a system in place to help writers create new groups. I belong to such a group sponsored by the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, Missouri Region. It was my first face-to-face critique group.
Meetings or Conferences. People don’t always talk up their own groups at events like these, but they are great opportunities to meet other writers that you can invite to start a group. This is how I connected with my second group, the Ladies of the Gordian Knot.
Online. Many of us “meet” our fellow writers online in discussion groups, on blogs, or on Facebook. Interact with your fellow writers then approach them about creating a group. A group doesn’t have to meet face to face; as a grad student, my only critique group was via e-mail.
As you try out various groups or work to create your own, here are some things to keep in mind.
- Look at what people write. Picture books are different novels. If you are the only novelist, you might not get the help you need from a group of picture book writers.
- Ask why they write. People who write to publish often have different goals than people who write just for the fun of creating a story.
- Look at their publishing choices. If your focus is traditional publishing, a group focused on self-publishing may not meet your needs. Variety can be good, but if you are the only one providing that variety, you might need to look elsewhere.
- Learn the ropes. Every group works differently. Some read their work aloud. Others pass it out ahead of time and return it with comments but also discuss it.
- Be ready to give. A critique group is different from a critique service. If you only want feedback but don’t want to critique for others, find a freelance editor. This attitude isn’t fair to the other writers.
Not every group will be right for you. You may even like everyone in a group, but still not get what you need. It’s a lot like dating that way. Sometimes you have chemistry and sometimes you don’t. If the first or second group you try lacks this chemistry, don’t give up. A good critique group is worth the wait and the effort.
Find out more about Sue's writing on her blog, One Writer's Journey.