OK. You made the plunge and decided to join a critique group.
What should you expect?
One is respect for each of us as a person and as a group. Be on time at the beginning and at the end. Respect each other as people and as colleagues striving to be the best we can be. Treat each other as the professional writers we are. In the critique itself, we should expect insights and ideas into our writing, particularly if there’s an aspect of the craft or the story we’re struggling with.
We want suggestions for help, not pronouncements from on high that their way is the only way to do it. Remember, as Somerset Maugham said, “There are three rules for writing. Unfortunately, no one can agree on what they are.”
Be We Focused
There will be members of the group who will be stronger in some areas than others. Some will be able to point out plot problems. Others will help us see where dialogue can be snappier or characterization stronger. We need to draw on those strengths to improve our own writing. At the same time, we all need to keep working on developing our craft and not depend on others to rescue us. A good critique can help us do that.
Ideally, one critiquer should not dominate the discussion. Many times, this person has their own agenda and looking to self-promote. This can stifle the growth of the group and the individuals.
On the other hand, one submitter should not dominate all the critique time either. My experience is that person is one who is least likely to receive criticism well. They can become defensive and argumentative and drain the energy of the group.
A successful group is one that is we focused. One where the members support and encourage and challenge each other to grow as writers.
What’s the best critique group experience you’ve had?
Henry McLaughlin is a co-founder of The Intentional Novelist, as well as Associate Director of the North Texas Christian Writers. His first novel, “Journey to Riverbend,” was the winner of the Operation First Novel Contest. His latest novel, “Riverbend Justice,” is now available.
Read more at henrymclaughlin.net or follow him on Twitter.