Getting the Most Out of Writing Critique Groups

Tell Your Inner Critic to Be Quiet
“They’re stupid and don’t know what they’re talking about.”

Most inner critics are very protective. If you don’t get him/her to be quiet, you’ll walk away from any critique group with a bad experience.

It’s called a critique group for a reason. If the group was just in place to give you glowing reviews, it would be called the “Happy-Fawning-All-Over-Your-Work Group.”

Get…But Do Give
Don’t expect to walk into a group and ask for critiques for your four short stories, new novel, work-in-progress and 18 poems. Give and get. It’s the beauty of critique groups.

You’re a member of the group now. Respect your fellow writers. Give feedback for the work other writers have posted.

I Don’t Know How to Give Feedback
Sure you do. Just as you can spot weak points in your own work, you can also spot weak points in other people’s work.

More importantly, though, by reading work from other writers, you can help develop an eye for what works and what doesn’t. Developing that eye will help you in your own writing and strengthen your work along the way.

Constructive is the Key
Someone says they hate your work. And that’s it. That’s hardly feedback and it’s certainly not constructive.

Most critique groups really frown on this type of comment and simply won’t allow it. This could even result in this member being expelled from the group.

If this happens to you, shrug it off and let it go. Report it to the person(s) in charge. They’ll want to know.

This situation hardly ever happens. But it’s important to know what to do if it does. Comments like that can destroy a writer’s confidence. And that’s not what critique groups are for.

Positive and Negatives
On that constructive note, when giving feedback on another’s work, why not point out both the positives and the negatives? If the plot line is strong, say so. If the characters need work, let the writer know.

Giving the good with the less-than-good together, can do worlds of wonder for a struggling writer – no matter what their level of experience.

Whether you’re just starting out or you have a few novels under your belt, critique groups can help you get a fresh perspective on your writing. If you’re ready to gain a new appreciation for the writing process and network with your fellow writers, then give critique groups a shot. You’ll be glad you did.