Critique Group: what we bring to the table

 

The first Wednesday evening of each month finds me at the local library rearranging the tables for critique group. This gathering of writers and illustrators for children’s works has taken place for about 18 months, now, and has evolved a great deal during that time. Attendees come and go with their own particular needs, which is to be anticipated with this type of group, and a usual core of ‘regulars’ shows up on a dependable basis.

Members include those who are traditionally and self-published, in addition to those who are seeking their first publication, or who might just enjoy the process of writing. We share our works in progress, give voice to our successes and disappointments, offer praise and helpful advice, in addition to discussing common concerns related to our craft and industry.

I think that the biggest change I have seen during this time is the wide variety of creations that those attending bring in to read, show, and discuss. Yes, writers still share complete and partial picture books or chapter book texts. In addition, we’ve mulled over many a query letter and just had our first taste of a press release, as well. Illustrations now run the gamut from sketches to full-color renderings and include those to be used in picture books, magazine/newspaper stories, social media banners, and for pure inspiration!

Bottom line, there’s a great deal of “work” and communication that needs attention, beyond the specific written and/or illustrated products that we hope to publish. Within our ranks, we’re finding a supportive environment for ALL of those needs, and we’re each adding to or reinforcing our personal knowledge with every new encounter.

I can hardly wait to see what the second half of this year brings!

If YOU belong to a critique group, I would love to read comments about the types of works that are shared.

~Becky~

 

38 thoughts on “Critique Group: what we bring to the table

  1. I admire your flexibility in terms of material shared. I belong to a group of children’s writers and we critique picture books through young adult. Fiction (for the most part) and some non-fiction. I’m grateful to have an in-person group.

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    1. I actually belong to two critique groups, and the other one has members who write in all different genres for various levels of readers. That group typically sends the pieces out ahead of time through email for editing, and then we bring them printed out to the meeting. For the children’s group, we normally just bring extra copies of our pieces and then the members do edits while listening to the presenters. We don’t all present each time, typically.

      Besides the valuable feedback, I like both groups equally, as a way of getting together in person and talking about various issues that we encounter!

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      1. Our group is like your second group where we send things out ahead of time. As the group grows (which is a good thing), we have more critique. I must admit though, sometimes, one or more submissions are not in “in my wheelhouse” as they like to say.

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      2. It’s good to hear that your group is growing! Sure, we listen to submissions at times that don’t really fit into our list of preferred reading types. There can still be good ways to offer helpful advice, though, even if it has more to do with the mechanics of the writing, as opposed to the content.

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  2. I have a small. critique group, Love them! 2guys, two women. We meet once a month and everyone sends a chapter the week before we meet. We all write novels. The guys catch our β€œshe-do stuff and we teach them the finer points about writing women characters. We make other comments as well but those gender comments are gold.

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  3. Nice post! I don’t belong to a critique group at the moment but have appreciated them in the past. The tricky part is figuring out what to do if someone gives you a suggestion that doesn’t seem in sync with your creation. It’s challenging to hold onto your vision vs. accept some part of it just doesn’t work.

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    1. I would thank them for their suggestions and tell them that I will consider those ideas. If you share that piece again, it will be obvious what changes you have or have not made. Most attendees will understand that you’ve made this decision based on what you believe about your own work. I think that one of the main things is to develop and cultivate a sense of respect among members from the very beginning.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I have been a member for 8 years now of a group that meets weekly to share our writing efforts. Membership has fluctuated over the period. We have produced a couple of anthologies. We have poets, memoirists and fiction writers. One is presently working on a YA novel set in North America 10,000 years ago when humans first entered the continent over the retreating polar ice cap. If I have a complaint it is that none of us offers sufficient feedback.

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    1. Sounds like a great opportunity to meet weekly! As far as sufficient feedback, possibly a more structured approach would help? Some groups go around the table, and each person is rather expected to offer some type of input. On the other hand, if members seem hesitant to say anything negative, possibly the “sandwich” approach would help. This is where each listener’s response begins with a positive, followed by a way to improve something, finally ending with another positive statement. In addition, if members aren’t receiving the pieces ahead of the meeting, maybe they just don’t have enough time to think about their feedback?

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  5. I’ve belonged to a number of critique groups over the past 15 years. They are a wonderful, low-risk way to get an informed reaction to a piece of writing. Also a training ground for dealing with critical opinions, both in the context of a group meeting and afterwards, when deciding which suggestions to follow and which to reject.

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  6. I’m privileged to belong to a small genre-oriented group called “Thrillerz.” We meet twice a month and submit 10 pages to be critiqued by all members. With our common denominator, we can focus on story arc, characterizations and other genre-related points. Having two editors and a retired school teacher also help with line-edits. Our critiques are always delivered in a positive, respectful, constructive manner. If I had to give away everything but a pencil, paper and one more thing, I’d opt to keep my critique group. They’ve been with me on a four book journey that only they understand. The group rules keep me writing and the group dynamics keep the bar high.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I administer a Horror writers’ APA (amateur press association) group… we are a smaller group so far, but international… we exchange work for critique online once a month, and are in various stages of publication…some traditionally, some indie, some self. We have been in existence since Halloween of 2016, and help each other with advice, cultural “translation” of language usage, and general reviews. Any Horror, dark poetry, dark fantasy/sci fi writers are welcome to check us out at https://grmhwapa.wordpress.com

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for sharing information about your online critique group! Very neat that you began on Halloween: It sounds like a great arrangement for all involved. Have you also taken part in an in-person group in the past? I’m wondering about the comparisons…

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Only in college courses…But I found a lot of meet-up groups were not only inconsistent in attendance, but seemed to get a wee bit too cliquey for my tastes. When you write in a specific genre like Horror, it is also harder to find other Horror writers within reasonable distances, so the GRMHW was formed to find isolated writers where ever they may be, and to find ways to make incompatible work schedules have less intrusion. Online has been great, and as for critiques, I find online easier because you have a written comment to reflect on and weigh the efficacy of…We can also moderate comments, increasing or decreasing as the writer needs, and making sure we keep it both civil and useful…

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