I’m very thankful for the two local critique groups that I attend and always leave feeling renewed and inspired. One is a well-established combination of writers from all different genres. I lead the second one, which is a newer compilation of writers and illustrators for children’s literature. Each group meets in person monthly, and occasional digital critique swaps are also requested and take place in between our gatherings. Since I’ve been taking part and observing for some time, now, several aspects for effectiveness have jumped out at me and motivated the following suggestions:
*When commenting in writing or orally, try to start out with a positive, follow with suggestions, and possibly end with another positive, as time allows (“sandwich” approach)
*Point out specific sections of the pieces for examples whenever possible, instead of speaking in generalities
*Keep in mind “nerves” and any misgivings you may have had when you first joined the group, upon greeting new attendees
*When receiving feedback, try to listen to a member’s full comments before responding with an explanation of your thinking or reasoning (this can be difficult to do!)
*Share your successes AND your disappointments, which can help to form connections between members
*Offer critiques on a continuing basis, even during those times when your own work is not being shared
Am I ALWAYS successful in remembering to do each of these things? I admit that I’m not, but these are my goals, since I can see how these strategies work so well when implemented. Feel free to add comments with ideas you’ve found to be especially helpful in your own groups!