Critical critiques …

Why bother to join a critique group? Why not ask your best friend, your husband, and if you are very courageous, your kids. Afterall, these are the people who love you and want the best for you. Why wouldn’t they make the best readers, the best critique partners? 

It is because they love you, they become blind to your foibles, follies, flaws and faults. They would never hurt your feelings telling you the opening is a yawn, stop talking so much and get to the point. 

It doesn’t matter what time in your life you make the decision that the writer’s life is what you want. Once you have stepped out of the closet into daylight, you begin the process of learning about yourself and your work. 

For most of us, that first novel may not hit the top ten of the best seller’s list, but may instead sit on a shelf never to be sanctified between the covers. 

Critique groups and partners come in a variety of styles and types and can be found in your hometown, a few miles down the interstate or in cyber space. Wherever they are, they are a vital tool for both unpublished and veteran authors. 

For years I was reluctant to do anything with what sat at the back of the bookcase, covered in dust and buried in old newspapers and magazines. Then I decided to take myself and one story out into the light of day and joined a critique group in a local library. (Libraries, by the way are a great resource and the first place to look for a critique group in your city, town or burb.) 

During the first two years I visited other groups. Don’t be shy or afraid to experiment with new groups. If you have never been a “joiner” this is a good time to start and the best way to hone your craft. 

Soon I will embark on yet another journey … I will begin critique training with my new group at the RWA-Women’s Fiction chapter. I will learn with other aspiring authors, the delicate balance needed to critique  others and use their critique to improve my work. 

The special skills needed to be a good critique partner are patience, a good ear and knowing how to create the “sandwich.” Provide positive feedback before and after and use the middle to help another writer zero in on what they need to improve their writing skills. Gladly, we do not need to possess the discerning eye of an editor, as this writer spells phonetically. 

I would love to find a partner who can enjoy and relate to how and what I write. I hope I find hers equally intriguing, entertaining and enjoyable. I look forward to exploring sub-genre groups I have yet to read. 

Why do we need a critique group? To give us the support we need as we write and rewrite the best work we can produce. 

And of course, to teach us to pay it forward and give the same support to others.

To each his own
passions with,

fOIS

Photograph by JenG 
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4 Comments

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4 responses to “Critical critiques …

  1. First, let me say that I love your blog. Second, let me say that I love NYC and I think you are living my fantasy. Well, maybe, I don’t know all that much about you…yet! Third, let me say that I was once part of a critique group which was invaluable in helping me grow and improve as a writer and editor. But after a couple of years, I felt the need to break from the group and go solo for a while (maybe forever!) because I think you can get to a point where your work is overly critiqued, and you end up trying to make it appeal to everyone, and thus, it turns out totally bland and boring. Perhaps that was just my experience, but I think I am at a place now where I can see the problems in my own work and stay true to my vision and my voice.

    Good luck!

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  2. christicorbett

    Florence,

    I belong to a bi-weekly critique group and have a beta reader as well.
    But, like Lucie who commented above, I’m starting to trust in myself that I know where I need to make corrections and where I need to leave it alone.

    Great post!
    Christi Corbett
    http://christicorbett.wordpress.com

    Like

  3. PK Hrezo

    I’ve learned that friends/fam never tell you what needs improving cuz they only see the good stuff. That’s kind of nice too, but not if you’re hoping to improve.

    I totally agree that all writers should learn how to crit the right way. We should be not be picking apart others work, but mentioning what works and doesn’t work for yourself as a reader. I’ve also found that this varies and sometimes even contradicts. What one CP may love, another will hate. It can be maddening.

    But in the end, when you have so much feedback to go on, a writer knows how to evaluate and make the best decision based on ALL the feedback. Giving crits also helps me grow as a writer. And I think it’s always important to show gratitude for someone who takes the time to crit, even if you may not agree with everything.

    So thank YOU, Florence. For making time for my work. 🙂

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  4. I’m such a loner, a critique group only confuses me. I heard the wonderful mystery writer, Tony Hillerman, say: “Never ask another writer to critique your work. He’ll tell you how =he= would write it.” Tony asked his wife to read his stuff. If she said, “Oh, this is good,” he knew he needed to work on it. If she said enthusiastically, “Oh, Tony, this is great,” he knew he had about hit it.

    I have found my best critique person was a neighbor who loved me and read voraciously what I was writing at the time. She pretty much did as Tony’s wife, only she was bluntly honest when it came to, “Honey, this is boring.”

    I love, love, Love your blog!

    Like

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