Posted by: nancycurteman | November 17, 2010

Critique Groups, A Great Way to Perfect Your Writing

Critique groups or clubs are excellent venues for improving and perfecting your writing. There are all kinds of critique groups, but they should all consist of other sympathetic writers who get what you’re trying to do and who will help you accomplish your goal by providing honest suggestions and feedback. Mine is just that kind of group. I’ve been a member of the same group of five to eight authors for several years. Here is a brief description of a club that has worked beautifully for me.

• We meet at Barnes & Nobles surrounded by books as a constant reminder of our goal of publication.

• We meet twice a month. This frequency motivates me to get more writing done.

• Several genres are represented in our group—mystery novels, short stories, science fiction, memoirs, screenplays, literary fiction.

• We limit the length of each submission to 12 double-spaced pages.

• We submit writing pieces ahead of time. This provides an opportunity for “critiquers” to read, evaluate in-depth, and make notes on each piece before presenting their views at the meeting. Also, this enables each writer to take a written critique home.

• We limit the number of minutes for presenting each critique because need enough time for everyone evaluate all submissions.

• Members never argue with suggestions, but elect to use only those  they consider will work for them.

I’m always impressed with the powerful feedback I receive from my fellow writers. I also gain much from critiquing the work of other authors. Consider joining or forming a critique group. You’ll be happy you did.

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Responses

  1. I hope to be able to join a critique group sometime in the future. I’m a 24/7 caregiver at this time in my life, so I won’t have that opportunity. I am thinking about an online group. Thank you for describing the way your group works. This answers some of my questions. Blessings to you…

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    • There are so many online critique groups. Just do a Google search. Good luck.

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  2. Very cool, Nancy.
    Do you have any openings?

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    • Yes, we have an opening. When may we expect you?

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  3. Sounds like a wonderful group, NC

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  4. Hi Nancy,

    I too have been a part of a Novel Workshop Group for a few years now- we have recently started our own blog to help connect to each other and share our writing with the world.

    We have recently been wondering if we should change up our group structure a little, so I thought I would pick your brain (if you don’t mind) seeing as you seem to have a successful group you are involved in.

    I see you meet twice a month, I was wondering if you bring feedback only to those meetings or you email the individual first with your thoughts. Also, do you submit weekly or biweekly?

    Right now we are on a rotational basis, but we are finding we are getting lost in who submits when and whose work needs to be read.

    Any help or advice would be much appreciated!

    Kind Regards,
    Emily Harper

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  5. Hi Emily, You ask some excellent questions. In general, we bring our feedback to our meetings unless one of our members has a deadline and requests that we e-mail our critiques. We find that face-to-face works best because clarification can be provided when needed. We submit twice a month. We distribute the new writing pieces at the end of each meeting, take the pieces home and record comments, bring them back to the meeting, share our comments and then pass the writing pieces back to the members. We have a relatively small group so we don’t rotate, we all submit at the same time. The reason we prefer this method is so all members receive feedback each time and do not have to wait. However, we limit the number of typed double-spaced pages to twelve or fewer. We also limit the review time for each piece to between fifteen to twenty minutes depending on how many members are in attendance. I hope this helps. Please let me know if you have any other questions.

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