Critique Groups and Why You Need One
By Anastasia Rabiyah
I owe my writing success to many factors: my imagination, my schooling, and my writing critique group. If you’re a new author and you’d like the support of fellow authors, find yourself a critique group you can work well with, trust, and one that helps you stay to the task.
The most common reason why a book is not published is because the author NEVER finished it. If you write, you’re nodding. It’s true. Even with as often as I write, I still have so many unfinished works that I could have, should have, would have finished…
I tried three writing critique groups before I found one that suited me. My biggest obstacle to writing is and always will be my family. They need me. Kids need Mommy present to help with homework, to read, to care for them, to remind them to pick up after themselves, and most of all, to love them. My husband and I own two restaurants, both of which I do the accounting, marketing, menu design, and weekly shopping for. Because of the constraints on my time, it’s not always possible to meet scheduled appointments. I can’t say that once a week on a given date at a specified time that yes, I’ll be there. It’s a problem when so many things, like critique groups, meet at a scheduled time no matter what.
The first critique group I belonged to met at a local bookstore in the back room. It was a “live” group in that many authors showed up and we discussed each others’ works and offered ways to improve them. It felt like a school setting in that the moderator directed us all and we went in round to speak when our turn came up. While this was great for my public speaking practice (I hate public speaking) it wasn’t good because I couldn’t always make it there. When my son became ill with pneumonia and had to be hospitalized, I decided to drop out altogether.
For some people, this kind of live group is perfect. Throughout life most of us attend school and this environment works.
For a time, after I completed my correspondence writing course, I belonged to an online support group of fellow children’s authors (I know I’m not a children’s author. Don’t look at me like that! I wanted to write children’s stories in the beginning of this adventure). We met weekly at a scheduled time. We discussed our current projects and sometimes we even had a published author as a guest speaker. Very nice convenience-wise all except for the scheduled times. That just does not work for a stay-at-home parent/entrepreneur. Three kids all demand attention at different levels, and at the time, my husband worked 12 hour days. Many times I had to go in to the restaurant and cashier or wash dishes, mop or even help prep food.
The last group I found quite by accident. I had belonged to an online writing site called Writing.com for a few years. It was more of a play area for me where I posted poetry and held little writing prompt contests, but then I stumbled upon a group called The Novel Workshop. It’s a multi-genre based series of critique groups segregated by genre. The Novel Workshop was started by author Frankie Belleview.
I joined Fantasy Keep and later, the Erotica Harem. This particular online group allows participants to provide at least one review for a fellow author per week or add a new chapter per week in order to remain active. I had found a place I could work with within the limits of my schedule! I also found a wonderful gathering of authors at all different experience levels. An online critique group allowed me the freedom to participate when it was convenient for me.
If you need a critique group, and I highly recommend that new authors find one, here are some things you want to look at when shopping around:
- Can I meet the group’s requirements?
- Can I give back what I receive?
- Am I ready to accept constructive criticism?
- Am I able to provide constructive criticism without being cruel?
- Is my manuscript clean enough to offer up to reviewers?
- Does this group critique the genre(s) I write?
- Do I have the drive to finish my book?
- Will I benefit from the opinions of others, or will it slow me down?
Writing critique groups are not for everyone. Don’t go into one expecting to have everyone faun over you and treat you like the best chocolate cheesecake ever. You are there with the same goal as all the other members: to receive critiques and get your book done and publishable. Remember to thank your reviewers even if you disagree. The most important rule of all is to remember that it’s all right to agree to disagree.
I’ve had authors show up in my author groups who think they know everything and like to demean other authors who are struggling to get things right. I’ve had authors who show up and expect everyone to drop what they’re doing and give all the attention to him or her and not offer anything back. Wrong. Writing critique groups are a co-operative movement. Go into yours understanding that.
One of the most difficult things for authors to see is the flaws in their own work. A critique group gives you the advantage of more eyes, more insight, and the benefit of support and advice to make your story the best it can be. Now then, don’t you think you need a critique group now?
SOURCES OF CRITIQUE GROUPS AND FELLOW AUTHORS IN TUCSON:
Saguaro Romance Writers of America www.tucsonrwa.com
Society of Southwestern Authors www.ssa-az.org
The Novel Workshop on Writing.com http://www.writing.com/main/forums/item_id/559910-The-Novel-Workshop
You may also wish to find a local group of romance authors by contacting the national Romance Writers of America www.rwanational.org
When all else fails, gather up your favorite author friends and start your own!
© 2010 Anastasia Rabiyah
This work was written with the intent to share and help fellow authors.
If you cite text used in this article, please credit the author and be kind enough to link back to the source: www.anastasiarabiyah.com