How to Find a Critique Group

Monday, February 18, 2013
Some groups provide lots of written comments!
It’s one thing to know that you should probably belong to a critique group.  It’s another thing to find one. Start out by looking wherever you find other writers.

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


Sioux Roslawski said...

I belonged to a couple of different groups in the past, and neither of them were good fits. Mutual admiration societies, yes. Writing critique groups, no.

However, I hit the jackpot with my current group, the WWWPs (Wild Women Wielding Pens). They are talented, they are encouraging, they have all been published (one in close to 20 Chicken Soup books), they're all intelligent, they're all honest, they're all problem solvers, and the icing on the cake--they're hilariously funny.

It's small enough (only 5 of us) that we can get a great deal accomplished in our critique nights.

Yes, if you're a serious writer, you should be part of a critique group.

Unknown said...

Timely post!

Unknown said...

I have writer friends who swear by a good conference and a great critique group. Good advice given here. Thanks!

Margo Dill said...

I agree 100 percent, and want to add one more thing--even if everyone in the group isn't published but is working toward it meaning--joining professional organizations, going to conferences, writing on a consistent basis, reading industry blogs, etc. then publication will come for them and they will give good critiques, in my opinion. Having a group of published authors is nice, of course, but sometimes published authors wind up having beta readers or one peer partner if they get busy with their career, so . . .a group of unpublished but serious writers is good, too. I feel like I'm rambling. Does anyone get my point? :)

Anonymous said...

Margo is 100% right -- writers don't have to be published to critique well.

You just have to find a group with the chemistry that works for you.


Mel Kinnel (@TizMellyMel) said...

Great tips! Thanks for the info.

LuAnn Schindler said...

Agreed! It's all about chemistry. I joined a critique group in my area (rural, rural Nebraska) and while I envisioned sharing and critiquing work, the rest wanted a writing prompt and then write and share at the end of the gathering. Didn't fit my needs so I moved on and found a better fit.

BECKY said...

Yes, I totally agree. Finding the right critique group for yourself is like winning a jackpot! I'm grateful that the very first one I attended was a perfect fit for me! No one ALWAYS gave positive comments, or negative ones. I've learned so much and have become such a better writer thanks to them.

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