A writer’s critique group meets on a regular basis to share information about the writer’s craft and the writing business. Members share resources, marketing information, sales and rejections, editor, agent, and business info, as well as their precious manuscripts.
At its best, a critique group “feeds” its writers. A writer’s group offers support and encouragement. In a critique group, writers listen to each other’s manuscripts with respect and consideration, making sure all members get a chance to share. Some groups read manuscripts aloud during the meetings, offering immediate feedback; others read manuscripts ahead and share written critiques at the meeting.
Writers present thoughtful evaluations of each manuscript, giving helpful, kind and honest feedback without being overwhelming; offering suggestions for improvement without trying to rewrite the manuscript. What might an evaluation include?: A report on places where one wants to know more; feelings that occur inside as the manuscript is read; images and phrases that stick.
I have been a member of a children’s writer’s group for over 10 years. Members of my group write picture books, children’s poetry, middle grade fiction and nonfiction, YA fiction and nonfiction. Consistently, our group is generous with its idea-sharing and support. Everyone offers heartfelt suggestions and everyone wishes success for all members. Because each member has a unique perspective to offer and a special area of interest/expertise, my writing has become stronger. I have learned to trust and evaluate the feedback—when to use it and when not.
Sharing our writing means we have also shared some of the deepest places of our inner lives. We have forged a special bond. Magically, my writer’s critique group recently spent five days together on a “writer’s retreat”, clicking computer keys from dawn till dusk (see previous post “Writer’s Group Retreat”).
Tragically, one of our members suffered a massive brain stem stroke two weeks following our retreat. She is now on life support with a slim chance of recovery. We are grieving the loss of our group-mate and friend—Elaine Marie Alphin, writer and “critiquer” extraordinaire.