A critique group.
My first thought was, “Hell yeah, let’s do it.”
Then my other half of the brain caught up and said, “What the fuck are you thinking?”
Critique groups aren’t for everyone. Before joining one, I heard rumours.
Some were full of praise. Others warned me off them.
Did I really want someone with about the same experience as I to tell me how I should write my story?
Now, I’m all for editors and beta readers. They are necessary to produce a good quality novel. No argument there. You need them no matter how wonderful your prose is because guaranteed, a reader will find an error.
But a critique group comes long before you read editor and beta reader stage.
Fellow members of your group are likely to see your raw material. Material that hasn’t had the luxury of editing and proofreading.
And that’s dangerous.
Especially, if you’re one of those individuals who take everything to heart.
You know, that as a writer you’re not going to please everyone. You might get raving reviews, and you might even encounter the nasty and vicious ones.
They will make you feel like shit.
It’s ok. Acknowledge them and move on.
Better yet, don’t read them.
Reviews are a waste of your time and energy. They’re subjective.
Check out your favourite authors, bestselling authors, award winners. I guarantee that you will find a malicious review.
And that’s for an already edited, proofread and finished product.
If you don’t want to ever get a bad review, save yourself the heartache, and don’t publish your writing.
FYI: Reading reviews is a waste of time, some will boost your ego, others will defeat it. But your book does need reviews to sell. Those reviews are for your potential readers, not you.
Your critique group isn’t going to see your best efforts. It’s going to see your first or second efforts. Drafts that still need to go through heavy editing and proofreading.
They are going to judge your raw writing, the bare bones of your story.
This has pros and cons.
You can get an idea whether your story is heading in the right direction. Or, you might be so influenced by the comments and suggestions that you lose your author voice.
While I haven’t been part of a critique group for long, I have found the following tips to be useful.
11 THINGS TO CONSIDER FOR A SUCCESSFUL CRITIQUE GROUP
- Mutual respect. You need to respect the members of the group and they have to respect you. The last thing you want is a group filled with vindictive personalities.
- Be willing to accept criticism. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. While I’ve grown up to believe that if you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all. Unfortunately, when your critiquing or getting critiquing there are going to be things that you don’t want to hear.
- Always enter the critique session with an open mind and zero arguments. You’re not there to fight for your story. You are there to learn and to improve your writing
- So listen. Listen to the comments. Is there a pattern emerging? Are multiple people saying the same thing? Are there mixed opinions? You’ll find that both may occur.
- Take emotions out of the equation. Don’t get upset when someone doesn’t like a bit of dialogue or too much description. Nor should you jump for join when the group tells you that you’ve written a fabulous story. Stay level headed and take it all in.
- Decide what advice to use and which to discard. In the end, it’s your book, you have to enjoy writing it and you have to be happy with the finished product.
- The people in your group should enjoy a similar genre. No point in getting someone who only readers sci-fi thrillers to critique your historical romance.
- Use the sandwich approach when giving a critique. Compliment, critique, compliment. It’s much easier to handle a negative comment when there’s a positive one on either side.
- Set the ground rules for your critique group from the start. You want everyone to agree with the expectations set out for them.
- A critique group is a work in progress. It’s trial and error. You’ll find that with each session you’re going to come to a schedule and format that works for all members involved.
- Remember to have fun and enjoy the process.