Different Critique Groups Meet Different Needs
I’m heading off today to my local critique groups and I realized I have several different types of critique groups, each one filling a different need.
Critique Ideas. Two years ago, I started the Friday Ideas group with the idea that we would only critique ideas. Too many of my manuscripts were rejected with this comment: “The writing is strong, but this just doesn’t stand out in today’s crowded market.” I wanted to get rid of that comment permanently, so we now critique ideas. Is this strong enough to compete? Is is original, or can I name something similar?
Critique in Person. Local groups allow me to get feedback in person. Often, these meetings are just sharing good news or bad news and are an encouragement group as much as anything. Yes, I need encouragement! Often! (You can leave me an encouraging comment below if you want! I need them a lot lately! Well, all the time, really.)
We also take in new people all the time, give them a taste of how we struggle to get things right and see a steady stream of people decide they don’t want to do the work needed to succeed. But there are a few who stick and they are a joy.
Critique Novels. Online, I have a critique group that only looks at completed novels. Writing one chapter is easy; writing a complete novel is much more complex and difficult. So, we only critique completed manuscripts. It’s a small group and we have agreed to read two novels from each participant, so a total of six novels per year. Very doable. It’s important to keep this group small.
Critique Groups for a Special Purpose. In my Novel Revision Retreats, I create special groups of four and within the group the writers exchange novels to be read before the retreat starts. This is a group created for a special event and often they dissolve after the retreat; but just as often, something sparks among the writers and they continue in some on-line fashion.
As I talk to people around the industry, I know there are many other types of critique groups formed, each filling a certain need for a certain season. Don’t be afraid to create one designed especially for you and your work!