A critique group is a group of writers who meet periodically (either weekly or monthly) to exchange chapters, short stories, essays, poems or articles with other writers. During the week, writers critique their colleagues’ work, then at the next meeting tell the writer what they think of it. Most critique groups focus on one particular genre– fiction, non-fiction, or poetry. Others are even more specific– short stories, memoir, novels, etc.
I participated in a critique group in the fall for my novel. Every week, I turned in a chapter. I received some great feedback from the other writers in my group, as well as the award-winning author who headed it up.
But ultimately, not much of what was said to me is helping me now.
Because my biggest problems with writing a novel are structure and pacing. And when you give a beta reader only one chapter to read every single week, they don’t often remember what they read the week before. They can’t tell you whether the structure is sound, or whether the pace of the plot is moving too quickly or too slowly. They can’t really comment well on your character development, because they only see the character in one chapter at a time.
For a novel, I need people who will take the whole, 10 pound, printed out manuscript and read from start to finish. That’s the only way it can be done.
Are you in a critique group? Do you find it helpful?
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And tune in tomorrow for our 4th guest poster, NY Times best-selling author ANDI BUCHANAN!