Thursday, October 28, 2010

Critique Groups

Sorry to have missed the last two weeks, but things have been a little crazy. I'm still in the process of adjusting to the "no day job"! It isn't exactly what I expected-since every day is a different, I actually have to keep a calendar. For a dyed-in-the wool pantser like me, that's a challenge, plus I have to remember to look at it...another challenge! But things are falling into place and I'm slowly moving into my new life.

One of the things that I'm looking forward to the most in this new life is joining a critique group with three other writers. Now critique groups can be tricky-I've tried online groups before without much success. It seemed that there were always a couple in the group who weren't all that constructive in their opinions. You know the type-people who like to shred you just because they can? God knows when it comes to writing, my ego is fragile enough without getting every line ripped apart, so I've really wanted to avoid a situation like that again.

What do I think makes a good critique group? Well, regardless of what I said in the previous paragraph, I really don't want to hear "this is the best thing I've ever read." First of all, I wouldn't believe them, and second, my first mentor, the late John Tigges, once said that a person learns more from criticism than one does from compliments. That sounds a little harsh, but it is true to a degree. My goal has always been to improve my craft, and I can't improve if I don't know where that room for improvement lies. BUT there are good ways to deliver the message without destroying someone's confidence.

I think it's all about balance. My editor is an expert at this-she points out the holes, what doesn't ring true, yet at the same time, throws me an occasional bone, so I know that there are some things that I'm doing "right". As a result, my ego stays intact, but I learn at the same time.

And that's what I think I'm going to get out of participating in this group. From their remarks, I expect to gain new skills and have fun at the same time. We've already had one get-together and we're all on the same page as far as our views about writing and what we expect from this experience.

How about you? Anyone else in a critique group? If so, what do you think makes for a good group?

That's it for this week. Have a good one, and see you next Thursday!! I promise!

Best,
Shirley

1 comment:

Sharon S. said...

I was thinking about you! Glad things are going well. I'm not an author, but I would love to help someone in a critiquing group . I guess I kind of do it with my daughter. She tells me where her thinking is going and I find the holes and help fix them.

I wouldn't think online critiquing would be a good idea for anyone. Things can be misunderstood in emails and it is easier to be nasty if you don't have to look someone in the eye when you tell them things. Face to face is the only way to do this sort of thing. Good luck with the new group and I can't wait to see the end results :)