Monday, April 9, 2012

To Crit or Not To Crit Group

I’ve had good and bad experiences with crit groups. I don’t have a crit partner, though I have a couple of brainstorming buddies when I get stuck. I’ve sent out small bits of work for them to look at, but it’s rare. This might be from experience, or simply because I’ve been burned in the past.” Allison Brennan

“Many published writers say that critique groups contributed to their success. Critique groups can help you improve your writing, detect weaknesses in plot, structure, or prose, and whip pieces into shape so they catch an editor’s interest.” Maryland Writers’ Association

Critique – to examine critically: Review

Critic – 2: one given to harsh or captious judgment

Five years ago when I became serious about the craft, some of the first advice I received was to get a critique partner or, better yet, join a critique group. The word, critique, sounded like a dressed-up version of critic as in criticized, which equaled ridiculed as in ridiculous in my mind, and the very last thing I wanted was to go Medieval on someone for telling me my new born baby manuscript sucked. Long story short, it was ix-nay on the critique roup-gay.

Six months or so later, I found the RWA and a local chapter and then Marley found me. As with every friendship, it took time to build trust and turn loose of those manuscript pages. We’ve been crit partners for about four years now. She knows me, my voice, my style as I know hers. We’ve become very comfortable in our critting relationship which is why we’ve begun to contemplate adding some new flavor to the soup and forming a group.

When I Googled Writers’ Critique Groups I found page after page of anonymous crit groups, how to’s, and other oddball combinations. For me, anonymous crit groups would be like playing Russian roulette with my WIP. I mean, you can’t copyright an idea, right? And yet, you want to find that perfect fit so you have to take some chances. I think there should be an E-Harmony that specializes in finding the right critique partner/group. With their patented 29 levels of compatibility a match would be guaranteed! That’s an idea, but maybe you have some of your own, dear readers. If you would care to share your experiences, ideas, suggestions, or what works for you, we would love to hear it! Happy Monday!

10 comments:

  1. I think getting various perspectives of your manuscript from critters or beta readers or what have you is pretty invaluable in the polishing and publication process. How to do it is just through trial and error!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I believe you are right! This writer gets so accustomed to her WIP that dings, grammar, and other inacuraccies are overlooked.

      Delete
  2. Trial is more like it, lol. There are so many factors that determine whether someone will be a good fit - personality, their genre and style, schedules, whether they are published and under huge deadlines. So much plays into it. I'm thankful to have found both a CP, a brainstorming partner, and a friend in Cadence.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ditto, Livia! You know my stories better than I do!

      Delete
  3. I have a great brainstorming group that I love, but I'm lukewarm about critique groups as well after being somewhat burned in the past. I'm glad you've found a critique partner you mesh well with!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Brainstorming is truly important for creativity. Trust is essential for Crit partner/groups, and you have to earn trust.

      Delete
  4. I've had unfortunate experiences with critique groups in the past. If you're lucky enough to find people with whom you can work, and who won't judge what you write as not literary enough, or some other arbitrary label, or who use the group as a way to merely promo their own work, stick with them. You've found gold.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Carolyn, I joined an online crit group a few years back and was quickly disillusioned. When I sent back a couple chapters to my online buddy and hesitantly told her I was having trouble understanding the plot, she blithely informed me that she sent me an old, rough draft manuscript. Apparently she was not looking for a crit partner, but a line editor.

      Delete
  5. I was with three critique groups. In the first one, we were all beginners so it wasn't much help. I was in two on-line critique groups at the same time, but a person from one group sent me a complete rewrite of my manuscript but the people in the other group were really helpful. They told me what I could do to correct problems and let me do it myself. I stayed with that group. The other group thought they were too good for me and told me I wasn't a good fit. lol I was going to leave without being asked to.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A supportive and honest crit group/partner is worth its weight in gold. All too often we find grammar police and "rules" monitors! ;)
      Of course, we need them, but not so much in the creative phase, no?

      Delete

 
ja