Posted by: Kathy Temean | September 16, 2010

Writer’s Critique Groups

Today the subject of critique groups came up and since I am starting to get feedback from other writers on my middle grade novel.  I wanted to encourage all of you to find a critique group. It amazes me how much others can point out about a story. 

So what do you do if you are not in a critique group?  Here are some of my thoughts:

1.  If you are a member of the SCBWI, contact your regional advisor and ask if they can post something to the members letting them know you would like to join a group or start a group.

2.  Visit your local book store or library to see if they can advertise something in their store/library letting writers know you are forming a group.

3.  Come out to SCBWI events to meet other writers.  You are not alone.  Other writers will be happy to help you find a group or join with you to make a new one.

4.  Don’t limit yourself to just hooking up with local writers.  Cast a wide net.

5.  Visit writers blogs and talk to the other writers.  Ask if anyone is looking to start a group.

6. Consider joining an online group. There are a lot of pluses to online groups.   They open you up a broader range of writers, because you don’t have to worry about coordinating meeting locations and times.  Another plus is you can work on other people’s submissions when it is convenient for you and since the pool of  people is larger, you can join a group of like-minded writers.  That might not be an easy task if you are limited by geography.

7.  Join a writers list serv. Make friends and let them know you want to form a group.

8.  Get on Twitter and put out some tweets.

9.  Volunteer your time at your local SCBWI chapter or other writers organization.

The main thing new writers do wrong is write something and rush it out without other writers taking a peek.  Getting feedback from your friends, students, and family doesn’t count unless they write.  Believe me when you are starting out everything you write will sound great to you.  I know, because I have seen it over and over and I did it myself.  I swear I thought everything I wrote my first year was fantastic.  I read the “How to” books that told me to let it sit, so I did that and then I went back and revised and sent them out.  All were rejected.  Then one day about a year and half later, I was cleaning out my files and found some of the pieces I had sent out.  OMG!  I was so embarrassed.  I prayed no one would remember my name.  Then I sold a few magazine articles and since it takes a couple of years for the articles to come out, I felt the same way.  I had grown as a writer, so it was still OMG!

As a Regional Advisor I have watched so  many writers grow and develop, so all I am saying is don’t rush.  Make sure you allow your skills to develop.  A good way to check when you think you are ready is to attend an SCBWI event and sign up for a one-on-one critique with an editor.  In the meantime, read, learn  your craft, educate yourself on the standard guidelines, get a critique group and network.  

Remember you have choices if you are serious about advancing your writing career and getting published.  Make a plan of things you can do to make your way down the publishing road and stick to it.  I just know finding a critique group is one of the important stops on that road. 

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

PS:  If you have any other tips that can help a follow writer, please share them here.


Responses

  1. I found my critique group through the library and attended my first meeting last night. It was a great experience and I received a lot of constructive feedback.

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  2. I found my last critique group via Meetup.com. However, by far the best critique group I belonged to was an online group geared towards science fiction and fantasy writers (Critters.org). It may sound strange, but even more valuable than all the critiques I received was all the critiquing I did of other manuscripts. It really helped me to become a better self editor.

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  3. Kathy,

    I just wanted to stress how wonderful online crit groups can be. Many people worry about strangers “stealing” their writing online, but I have been participating in online groups for about 8 years and have never had a problem. You can start a chapter at a time to gain comfort with a group.

    It is great to have the feedback typed right into your chapter. If you are unsure about making the changes, you can save/print the crit and revisit it later. You don’t have to worry about remembering things and taking notes like during an in-person crit. You also don’t have to put on a polite face while reading the criticsms!

    Yvonne

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  4. Live and learn! Great advice. Thank you, Kathy 😉

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