Critique groups help aspiring writers improve their work while networking with writers of similar passions. It’s a little jarring to hear others’ criticism but that’s only because we think of criticism as a purely negative diatribe given by high-brow experts.
Try to remember that the members of successful critique groups are generous in their support of fellow writers. They understand writing talent increases with repetition, diligence, education and successful rewrites.
They celebrate your writing strengths and call attention to manuscript weaknesses with no venom; they understand creating a novel takes inspiration and creativity. There are no great writers, just great re-writers. In one writers’ conference, literary agent Noah Lukeman stated 90 percent of writing is rewriting. And rewriting is based on heavy editing skills which these groups help writers develop.
A lucky writer will search for a group of astute readers to give a fresh perspective on their writing and learn from writers in all stages of their careers –even professional authors. One of the greatest benefits of critique group is getting suggestions for fixing manuscript flaws to create stronger novels.
Successful groups take your search for a publisher to publish your manuscript just as seriously as you do. And everyone may encourage you to meet your writing deadlines and participate in group feedback as a result of that desire.
If you need to find a critique group that offers honest, valuable feedback join your local writer’s guild, ask at the local library or a large area bookstore, Goggle critique group in your state, attend Writer’s conferences or even create you own. But don’t join until you’ve done your research. Elena Johnson of Querytracker states the following attributes are always present in productive critique groups:
- Honest critiques
- Personal relationships with members
- Timely feedback on submissions
- Kind, tactful, valuable critiques
- And a set length of genre-specific submissions for all members
So take your time to get to know the people and rules of a critique group before joining so you can add value to your work and add more stress to your life.