Saturday, February 22, 2014

The Blessings of Critique Groups



By Christy Monson
 
Some may say that writing is a solitary experience. That's true. I like being alone, and I enjoy thinking my own thoughts and making my own stories. This part of writing is absolutely my dream job. I can do it every day and not get tired.



But the added bonus I've found in writing is connecting with other people in critique groups. I love the friends I've made. They are so dear to me. Each meeting we take a little time to discuss our lives outside writing, but mostly we enjoy exploring our characters, moral dilemmas, tension, action, and so many other things that go into a good manuscript.
As far as writing is concerned, I always second-guess myself. Have I developed a strong protagonist? Do I have a compelling plot? Is my premise well defined? Do I have a sneaky, slithery, slimy opponent who has some redeeming qualities in the story? Have I developed my three try-fails?
To answer these questions, I have joined several critique groups. (I NEVER do anything half way.) 


        
The group I have belonged to the longest has seven writers in it. Each week we meet to discuss everyone's five pages that we have emailed (several days before), read and critiqued. Wonderful synergistic dialogues ensue in this group. These people are dedicated to learning their craft. When I joined several years ago, there were no published authors in the group. Now almost everyone is published, and several have won writing contests.
Another group I belong to meets monthly to discuss an entire manuscript and render a critical evaluation. There is something to be said for reading a whole book at once. You pick up details and problems you don’t see with just a few pages each week. These writers are dedicated also. Several of them have books in print, and all of us are published in anthologies.
The last group I belong to is a picture book group. (I LOVE writing picture books!) In this group we email our monthly writing and discuss our critiques when we meet. About half of us are published in that group.
The friendships I've made in these meetings will last my life time. What a blessing to find people you look up to and admire who love the same things you do and have dedicated themselves to improving their talents.
Spend a few minutes today being thankful for your critique group, and count the blessings each person brings into your life.

4 comments:

  1. Thanks for posting this, Christy! I have been unable to make it to a critique session for months...and I haven't been motivated to write nearly as much. I know I shouldn't have to be held accountable by someone else in order to get stuff done...but it sure helps! hugs~

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  2. Hugs back. It sure does help to be held accountable. Besides, I can get off in the green pastures so easily. I need those people to keep me on track.

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  3. We seem to have critiquing issues. Not sure why we can't seem to get people interested. I mean I can be brutal, but then most people don't seem to want brutal. I mean how specific do you get?

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    1. I LOVE someone telling me how it is. I value most those who find my thinking errors. There is a synergy in a good critique group because the discussion is always better than the individual comments.

      I think online groups are hard because people aren't really connected with each other.

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