How to Benefit the Most from Your Critique Group
It’s great to have a critique group, either in person or on-line. Here are ways to benefit the most from your critique group:
How a critique group can help you
1. Another person can spot those spelling, punctuation, or grammar that you’ve read over 10 times and didn’t notice.
2. If you want to know if a particular scene in your book is working, the members in your critique group can give you their opinions.
3. The people in your critique group can teach you, inspire you, encourage you, and tell you the Blue Ribbon parts of your manuscript, query letter, cover letter, proposal, synopsis, summary, or whatever you ask them to check specifically for you.
Things to remember before your work is critiqued
1. Give the critiquers the right to like or dislike your work. Accept that it’s okay if they don’t like it. Accept that it’s okay if they do like it. Be ready to ask them to suggest a way they believe would be better.
2. Be open to change. Change creates a path to a stronger and better manuscript. Decide which parts of your manuscript are non-negotiable and which parts are negotiable.
3. Put your best foot forward. Use the Spelling, Grammar check in your software to check it before you share it with others.
Questions to ask your critiquer
1. Ask a critiquer to retell your story for you (James N. Frey’s suggestion from How to Write a Damn Good Novel.) Through listening you’ll discover the strong parts and weak parts. Ask them to tell it in three sentences, beginning, middle, and end.
2. Which parts, if any, confused you?
3. Is my dialogue believable? Is it tagged appropriately?
Things to remember after your work has been critiqued.
1. One person’s opinion doesn’t mean it is the truth. It does not mean what they say is a fact. It is not their opinion about you personally. It is about your writing. Keep the two things separate in your mind.
2. Don’t change anything you don’t agree with 100 per cent.
3. Let your manuscript and the critique comments rest in a drawer for at least a week before you do anything with it. Give time for the ideas to take root in your brain and jog around in your imagination.
Three Critique Group Resources
Guidelines for Group Critiques of Fiction by Jennifer Evans http://www.slugtribe.org/etiquette.html
Guide for Critique Groups & Individual Critiques by Ellen Dodson http://www.scbwior.com/links/CritGroup.html
Fundamentals of Fiction, Part III: Critique Groups and Writers’ Groups by Marg Gilks http://www.writing-world.com/fiction/fiction03.shtml
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