Next weekend is our monthly RWI meeting and along with that, we have our monthly critique group. I’ve been in several groups and I love them. Not only do they help my own writing, but it gives me insights into my sister members. But there are things to be cautious about when working with other author’s stories.
For those of you who may not know how critique groups work, everyone who wants to posts up to 4000 words on the Yahoogroups website. Everyone in the group downloads the work, reads it, and makes comments on the pages. There are some basic rules such as, be constructive, no personal attacks, and offer encouragement. There are also some things to be careful with such as don’t try to change the author’s voice, nitpick, or state you didn’t care for something without explaining WHY you didn’t care for that thing. Of course, all of these rules are subject to the concept that author doesn’t HAVE to accept recommendations; after all. it IS their story.
If everyone does it right, critique groups can “grow” an author into published author. And part of the fun for me is to watch the story unfold though, since the group only meets monthly, we may not see the entire story unless the author is writing only to meet the group deadline…never a good idea since that takes too long for a book to be finished.
Overall, I love seeing not only how the stories develop. I love when the suggestions we offer work. I love the energy as the entire group tosses ideas around. I love the enthusiasm that everyone has for the success of the writer. And as long as I can, I plan on being part of a critique group.
Or at least until senility sets in and I’m drooling gruel.