I’ve been a part of a 4-person critique group for several years. We meet once a month and react to one of our manuscripts. The feedback is always positive but also honest with pointed advice as to what would improve a character or scene.
Different versions of my stories got better each time I shared. It’s invaluable to have others read your work. In isolation you often don’t see problems with a scene.
So now as we reach our third summer together my group is disbanding. One person is moving, another who began as a YA writer but now prefers Adult is joining a group of like writers, and the third has decided to take a break from the long road to a successfully published book.
I’m alone again, but not for long.
When I first searched for a critique group almost five years ago there were friends and family who read my first story (okay, maybe it was the second as my first was just for practice). I quickly realized they were not much help. All they could say was something along the lines of “I loved this!” What I needed was how to make it shine, how to raise it up to the next level. I stopped giving them my stories because their feedback was too nice.
Next I did email critiques with two strangers on the east coast. We’d trade a chapter at a time and provided advice. Things went much better with these two people and both are published authors now.
My recent writings have been critiqued to the max, but when I revise it’s always nice to have a friendly voice out there to give critical reaction. I also have more stories in the future that will need outside readers.
I made several connections at the recent BIG SUR conference, and will look to a few of the organizations that already have opportunities for organized groups (SCBWI and CHILDRENS BOOK INSIDER).
Thank you to my disbanded 4-Writer’s Group.
Thanks for laughing in the right places.
Thanks for making me put more emotion into my writing.
Thanks for telling me outright when something wasn’t working.
It’s been a great experience.