Tag Archives: Criticism

My First Face to Face Critique Group

Believe it or not, up until today I had never been part of a face-to-face critique group.

There weren’t any around me, and I didn’t want to travel all the way into the city and pay $30 for parking.

I had thought of starting my own, but hesitated because of the work involved with being a moderator.  Then, luckily enough, a friend of mine started one ½ hour from me.  She was so nervous, and very happy when I signed up… THe old strength in friendly numbers thing.

In retrospect, we discussed a few mistakes, one of which was opening it up to ANYONE who was interested.  She was trying to be nice, but it was frustrating to get there after critiquing ten pages of 4 other authors, and only having two other people show up. (The moderator, myself, and another participant)

It worked out fine, but I wasted valuable time reading and critiquing twenty pages for two people who will never see my comments,  — and if you know me… 20 pages equals about 90 comments. I am very thorough.  Also, I won’t see what they did for me (if they ever even read mine in the first place)

In retrospect, we discussed only opening up the critique sessions to established members of our writing group (which is 300 members strong).  This way, we can be sure the people are already invested, and not just “fly by night”.

What WAS good was that the three of us who came were serious.  We critiqued each other’s work, and since we had an extra hour, chatted further about each piece than we would have been able to under normal circumstances. (If the other two showed up)

I was particularly tickled that they both asked for the rest of my work (Last Winter Red) because they liked it so much they wanted to see what happened.  Everyone needs a little ego-boost now and then 🙂

Did they come up with anything my beta-army didn’t?  Yeah, a few things.  Every set of eyes notices something different.  What was cool was that I could talk to them about it.  The only problem with on-line beta partners is that you have to email back questions, and sometimes that’s hard.  Here, we just chatted it over.

Probably— if I knew who the people were, and I could trust that they would show up.  I believe that the more opinions you get, the better your work will be… and someone may just see one word that is wrong that everyone else read over.

Also, I love getting out and chatting with other writers.  I love helping people develop.  There are so many people out there with great ideas, they just need help formulating them in a marketable way.

I was there once (a novice), and it was not too long ago.  Someone helped me.  Okay, a lot of people helped me.  Gosh, I was bad… but my ideas were good.  Now that I know a little bit about writing, it’s my turn to share the wealth.

That’s not to say that I don’t make the same silly mistakes all the time.  I am nowhere near arrogant enough to say I don’t need my beta-readers.  I am just to the point where I know what they mean when they think something is not right.  I can look at their comments, hit myself in the head, and I know EXACTLY how to fix it.

Other writers taught me how to do that.

Now, I can give that knowledge back to others.