Getting the Most Out of Critique Groups

At some point in your writing career, you should seek feedback on your work. Sure, your mom can look it over. Your best friend can read your new novel.

But if you want honest criticism, one of the best sources for critiques is from your peers.

The biggest challenges most writers face when seeking feedback is the act of handing over their work to a group of strangers. But if you follow a few simple rules, you’ll find critique groups offer an invaluable service.

Selecting a Critique Group
Critique Groups come in all shapes and sizes. Some are free. Others charge fees. Some meet in person. Others are held online or through regular mail.

Choose a critique group that’s right for you. Many groups will allow you to sit in on or monitor a session without committing to joining. This will allow you to evaluate the way the group works.

Most free critique groups allow you the opportunity to join or leave as you please. This can be especially helpful if the focus of the group changes – or even your own writing style changes and you’d like to seek a more specialized setting.

Joining the Group
You don’t have to be writer #1544850. Introduce yourself to the group and get to know your fellow members.

This helps break down the barriers that often prevent writers from sharing their work with critical eyes. Once you’ve introduced yourself and people have had a chance to welcome you, you’ll feel more relaxed and know that there aren’t a bunch of red pencils waiting to pick apart your work. These are real people, just like yourself, who share their work as well.

Critiques Can Be Wrong
One of the most important factors you must consider is that critiques can be wrong. Even professional editors aren’t always right.

Always remember, a critique is an opinion. You should take each critique seriously and see if you can apply it to your work.

If you think it’s totally off the mark, move on. Even ask the group about the person’s comments. Don’t be shy. You’re not in the group to make friends. You’re here to further your writing career.

I Like It But…
Someone said they like your work. Great!

Then they start to get into a more solid critique. Don’t automatically tune out everything after the but.