Nearly all writers have a need for support and constructive criticism during the writing process. They want to make sure they’re on the right track, and that their results will meet the interests of agents, publishers or readers.
The feedback provided by a group can help avoid time wasted in rewrites and editing.
And positive feedback can help overcome self-doubts that often arise.
A critique group can provide the guidance and encouragement that makes the writing process more productive and more fun.
In a critique group, “works in progress” are shared with other members, either in writing or via oral readings. The members offer constructive criticism and suggestions for revisions. It’s important to avoid bruising egos during this process. But it’s also important to offer concrete suggestions, not just a pat on the back.
Still, beginning writers need to prepare themselves, because a good critique group will tell you what you need to hear, which is not necessarily what you want to hear.
One of the best things about critique groups is they afford the opportunity to interact with others who speak your language and share your passion for great writing. But this can also be a problem if some group members have very different ideas about what direction your story should take or how it should be written. So at some point you need to decide which advice to take, and which to ignore. There are no black and white answers to most literary questions.
Critique groups may also provide you with contacts such as editors or agents, or connect you with illustrators if you’re working on a children’s book. And members may have experience in promoting books that you’ll find valuable once you’re in print.
But critique groups can consume a lot of time when you could instead be generating written output. In addition to the meetings, you’ll need to spend time seriously analyzing other members’ work.
The best groups meet regularly in person, although online groups can also be very productive. In person groups often meet in bookstores or libraries. The notice boards in such facilities offer a way to find them. Online searches can also turn up groups in specific areas.
One very large online critique group is http://www.critiquecircle.com
If you’d like to interact with writers who are all on the same page, there’s a Google group of my former students. There you will find hundreds of members who are writing using the same techniques you’ve learned in my classes:
You can just click the Join button, you don’t need to contact the admin. Then you must acknowledge that you understand the postings may contain mature content, and that you are 13 years or older.