Monday, November 14, 2011

Before You Join a Critique Group

Joining a critique group can help a writer grow to the next level, which is why most writers want to be a part of at least one group. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to know if you’ll have a good fit with a group until you’ve tried it out, but there are some questions you can ask yourself to help prevent a bad match.

Sometimes writers jump into a crit group for the wrong reasons and are disappointed or even discouraged when they don’t get what they expected out of the group. A part of the problem can be the wrong match between the writer and the group, but occasionally, the difficulty stems from a writer who’s not prepared for criticism of their masterpiece.

Decide if you’re ready for a critique group by asking these questions:

-Why do you want to join a critique group?
-Are you looking for someone to praise your writing?
-Are you ready to be told your writing needs improvement?
-Can you use constructive criticism as a guide to help you better edit your manuscript?
-Do you have a good enough understanding of your story to know when you’re being offered advice that won’t work?
-Are you in love with your words and refuse to make any changes?
-Can you take some of the suggestions and leave the rest?

Just because you’re ready to become a member of a critique group doesn’t mean the first one you come across will be the one for you. Choose a critique group based on your answers to the following questions:

-What are the rules to the group?
-Does their schedule work with yours?
-Will you be able to receive as much as you give? (Some critique groups require you to crit a few chapters before you’re permitted to post one of your own.)
-Are the other writers working in the same genre as you? If not, do they have an understanding of your genre? How familiar are they with the genre specific “rules”?
-What writing level(s) do the other members fall under? Is there a mixture of beginners, intermediates, and advanced writers? Or is everyone along the same level? Are you truly at this level?
-How many members are in this group? Would you feel more comfortable with a small group or a larger one?

There are no wrong or right answers to the above questions, only honest answers that’ll help you know what kind of critique group you want to be a part of before you begin your search.

Do you have any questions or suggestions to add to this list that will help someone decide on a critique group?

Come back tomorrow for Critique Partner #3’s profile.
Don’t forget the deadline to submit a questionnaire for the critique group matchmaking services is Friday, November 18, 2011.

Lynnette Labelle

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