Writer Critique Groups – Friend or Foe?
A critique group is a lifeline for the new writer. It can assist him in forming good habits before poor ones set in. Without the aid of the group I belong to, my work would not have advanced beyond the sophomoric stage it was at four years ago. I’m a self-published writer, my suspense book She’s Not There is on sale on Amazon and has sold nearly two thousand copies since it came out last August. Would that have happened without the encouragement of my friends in the group? I’d never have gotten there on my own.
One of our members, Donna White Glaser, author of The Enemy We Know, was the first of our members to ePublish. Her experience and assistance encouraged the rest of us to do the same. I think many would-be authors daydream about the kind of book they’d like to write someday, and that daydream never becomes a reality. For me, being in a group made that dream come true.
Joining a writer’s group can benefit the new author in many ways:
1. Improve style and quality of your writing.
2. Improve grammar and punctuation.
3. Act as a regular motivator, forcing you to keep up with your writing. Our group meets every two weeks and the members must submit 1500 – 2000 words to each member of the group.
4. Support you on the journey to your novel’s completion.
5. Members of the group share experiences with things like marketing, conferences, social media, contests and events.
6. Gives you a regular sounding board for your work.
Our group consists of only five writers. We limit our meetings to two-and-a-half hours, so it would be difficult to have a larger group and still give each other’s work an in-depth critique.
There are other writer’s groups, larger than ours, who have no regular requirements, instead members share passages of their work by reading aloud, and readings are done on a voluntary basis. We had occasion to read a writing sample from a member of one of these groups and it was clear that a smaller group with regular submission requirements contributes more to writing quality. For a motivated writer, a smaller group provides the greater benefit.
Detractors of the writer’s critique group believe that it stunts creativity. This could possibly be true in the case of a very seasoned author, but in my opinion, the opposite is true. If my work is boring, the group is not shy about letting me know I have to up the creativity to hold their interest.
In an interview, when asked what advice I'd give a new author, joining a critique group is always my first point. Please let us know if you have experience with being in a group and how it worked for your writing. Always enjoy hearing from you!