Saturday, March 28, 2009
Why and How of Critique Groups
Why bother to join a critique group? If someone just wants to diddle around and fellowship with people who like to write they would be better off to join a book club. Accomplished professional writers may join groups to help beginners and intermediates. For the rest of us, the input from critique groups does a lot to help us improve our skills and get published. That is, if the group is run well.
Whether on-line or in person, it's imperative that the group has and follows rules that make sure everyone has an equal opportunity to have their work critiqued and that everyone helps critique the work of others. I was once in an internet group where the moderator sent lots of things for others to critique, but never critiqued other people's work. For obvious reasons, I didn't stay in that group for long. It also helps to have clear limits about how much each person can ask the others to read and discuss. In some groups people argue about suggestions, which wastes everyone's time. Nobody is required to follow advice, but common courtesy requires that they accept it politely. A poorly run group can be worse than none at all, but a good critique group is something every serious writer should experience.