Critique Groups – Feedback Sessions for Authors

Do you belong to a support group for writers or speakers? Belonging to a collaborative critique group can be both and boon and a bane for authors and speakers. They are a boon because of the incredible insight you get into your work from various perspectives of others. They are a bane because you may not like what they have to say or how they deliver it. Author critique groups provide the system of checks and balances that are necessary for producing useful content related feedback.

Feedback – Feedback can be a powerful source of inspiration that provides new direction for work you are currently slugging with on a daily basis. Critique groups can be virtual, coffee shop, or home-based with a wide variety of structure and organization.  On Bainbridge Island, WA there is a wonderful group called Field’s End that promotes authors by providing workshops, presentations, and other events. Like minded people tend to gravitate toward each other in the framework of the organization and many of them go on to form critique groups.

Some people prefer small intimate affairs, others prefer large group settings where they can remain more anonymous. A new version of the critique setting is emerging on line inspired by authors like John Kremer. He has founded an author/agent/publisher social network that is now over 1000 members strong that harbor among other things critique groups.

Making the Most of Your Time – Whether you pursue traditional publishing or self-publishing, a critique group can be invaluable to your work’s overall success. Think of it as an inexpensive way to “road test” your work before it goes to an agent or editor to be eviscerated.  How do you make the most of your critique group’s time with your work?

  • Be specific in what you need.
    • Don’t say, “Help, I don’t know where to go next!”
    • Say instead, “I am struggling with getting the protagonist’s inner conflict to be evident to the reader in a seamless method.” 
    • Or, “Does the humor in this scene fit with the character’s later development?”
  • Have clean copies for the group.
    • Run spelling and grammar check prior to distributing to your group

A good critique will help you remove the clutter in your writing, indicate your weaknesses, and valuable insight to your work. If you only get feedback that is glowing, filled with nothing but praise, and make you feel like the next Stephen King…then run! Feedback is only effective if it is balanced and has value that benefits your work and not just your ego. 

Find a critique group that fits your style on line, in a round table forum or in a small intimate setting. Good critique groups are instructive, inspirational, constructive and promote positive community building between authors. Like a good pair of boots, find the right style and fit for you…

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About mywritingmentor

I am an editor, book coach, and freelance writer.
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2 Responses to Critique Groups – Feedback Sessions for Authors

  1. wish I could find one in my area…

  2. Why not start one? There are books and papers on how to start one…just keep the group small 3-5 people.
    My group meets around a bottle of wine and my dining room table twice a month. My friend has her group meeting in the basement of a church. Another friend meets in a coffee shop that has a small room they “borrow” for free. I belonged to one in upstate NY that met in the library in a study room. There are options!
    There are some wonderful groups that meet on line as well. You might want to go and visit and see if any might be a good fit for you. Hope this helps!

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