|Getting the Most Out of Critique Groups|
|By Apryl Duncan|
But if you want honest criticism, one of the best sources for critiques is from your peers.
The biggest challenges most writers face when seeking feedback is the act of handing over their work to a group of strangers. But if you follow a few simple rules, you'll find critique groups offer an invaluable service.
Selecting a Critique Group
Choose a critique group that's right for you. Many groups will allow you to sit in on or monitor a session without committing to joining. This will allow you to evaluate the way the group works.
Most free critique groups allow you the opportunity to join or leave as you please. This can be especially helpful if the focus of the group changes - or even your own writing style changes and you'd like to seek a more specialized setting.
Joining the Group
This helps break down the barriers that often prevent writers from sharing their work with critical eyes. Once you've introduced yourself and people have had a chance to welcome you, you'll feel more relaxed and know that there aren't a bunch of red pencils waiting to pick apart your work. These are real people, just like yourself, who share their work as well.
Critiques Can Be Wrong
Always remember, a critique is an opinion. You should take each critique seriously and see if you can apply it to your work.
If you think it's totally off the mark, move on. Even ask the group about the person's comments. Don't be shy. You're not in the group to make friends. You're here to further your writing career.
I Like It But...
Then they start to get into a more solid critique. Don't automatically tune out everything after the but.
Tell Your Inner Critic to Be Quiet
"They're stupid and don't know what they're talking about."
Most inner critics are very protective. If you don't get him/her to be quiet, you'll walk away from any critique group with a bad experience.
It's called a critique group for a reason. If the group was just in place to give you glowing reviews, it would be called the "Happy-Fawning-All-Over-Your-Work Group."
Get...But Do Give
You're a member of the group now. Respect your fellow writers. Give feedback for the work other writers have posted.
I Don't Know How to Give Feedback
More importantly, though, by reading work from other writers, you can help develop an eye for what works and what doesn't. Developing that eye will help you in your own writing and strengthen your work along the way.
Constructive is the Key
Most critique groups really frown on this type of comment and simply won't allow it. This could even result in this member being expelled from the group.
If this happens to you, shrug it off and let it go. Report it to the person(s) in charge. They'll want to know.
This situation hardly ever happens. But it's important to know what to do if it does. Comments like that can destroy a writer's confidence. And that's not what critique groups are for.
Positive and Negatives
Giving the good with the less-than-good together, can do worlds of wonder for a struggling writer - no matter what their level of experience.
Whether you're just starting out or you have a few novels under your belt, critique groups can help you get a fresh perspective on your writing. If you're ready to gain a new appreciation for the writing process and network with your fellow writers, then give critique groups a shot. You'll be glad you did.