It’s Critical: Learning to Love My Critique Group

A Rave About Writing

Until l recently, I’ve been reluctant to join a critique group. It’s not because I’m troubled by criticism (at least not too troubled, not when it’s relevant). I’ve entered my share of contests, and the feedback I received has mostly resulted in a series of “Duh!<smack-self-on-head> ” moments, rather than “I’m-putting-my-computer-up-for-sale-on-eBay-right-now” reactions.

But critique groups are structured, and I’m … not. Also, I tend to be a little — okay, very — contrary. That’s why I don’t read bestselling authors. It’s my  tiny, pathetic attempt at being different in a sad kind of bookwormish way.

I’m weird. I admit it.

However, about six months ago, it dawned on me that my writing was not going to improve unless I started getting regular feedback from readers who are familiar with the romance genre. I put out feelers to an existing critique group formed by members of my RWA chapter but ultimately decided the time commitment was not finite enough for me.

Then Shelley Shepard Gray spoke at one of our meetings and mentioned how her critique group works. Basically, they meet once a month, bring pages of whatever they’re working on, and pass them around the group, with each member writing her comments in a different colored ink.

This I could manage. So I sent an email to our chapter members asking if anyone else would like to try this type of group. Three people responded, giving us a  perfectly sized group for this type of critique work.

We started meeting in November, and have met twice since. Not only do we now have an excuse to sit around Panera and work on our writing for three hours once a month, I believe the sharing of opinions and impressions has resulted in a better product for all of us.

And, while I don’t agree with every comment, my partners’ ideas make me stop to think about why I have written something the way I did. The majority of their feedback, however, is the <smack self on the head> type.

I can’t think why I didn’t do this sooner.

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About kymlucas

"Taking care not to take love too seriously." Writer of smart, fresh, contemporary romance and women's fiction. Blogging about writing, reading, and more recently, dealing with the ins and outs of breast cancer.
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4 Responses to It’s Critical: Learning to Love My Critique Group

  1. “The majority of their feedback, however, is the type.” Agreed, not only are the members of a critique group authors, they are also beta readers.


  2. My writers group has a main sharing meeting each month, where we share work and welcome comments. However, when several of us embarked on NaNoWriMo in 2009, we realized we required more than one meeting a month. This resulted in a novel working workshop once a month. Chapters are emailed to each participating member, who then use track changes & comments. Then we meet to discuss in person. We have been successful in finalizing several manuscripts this way.
    Support, encouragement and other points of view really do help.


    • kymlucas says:

      I agree. It seems one of the most important things about a critique group is finding one that works for you. And I like how your group adapted to the need for more than one meeting when it was necessary. That willingness to change is so important. Thanks for sharing how your group works.


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