Searching for a Critique Group: A Guest Post by SM Ford (aka Susan Uhlig)

The best thing I ever did for my writing was to hook up with a critique group.  Not only did I learn by what they said about my pieces, but I learned by what others did right and wrong in their work.  The group also inspired me to try new things.

What to consider when looking for a critique group:

  • Decide what you want out of a group…
    • critiquing only
    • big picture critiquing and/or line by line
    • sharing of market info
    • tips and encouragement
  • Decide whether you want a face-to-face group and/or an online group.
  • Do you want a mixed genre or a specific genre group?

Next, start looking for what’s out there:

  • Get critique group recommendations from other writers.
  • See what local writer organizations offer in the way of critique groups.
  • Then, check out specific groups who are open to new participants.  Feel free to ask the leader/moderator questions.

What to consider before you attend/participate:

  • Does the group have goals similar to yours?
  • Does the group have written rules or guidelines?
  • Is the group an open group or a group where visitors come and must be approved to become members?
  • Will their frequency and time of meeting, or online deadlines, work for your schedule?
  • What do they expect regarding attendance at meetings or participation?
  • Is the group a comfortable size?
  • If the meeting location is not geographically near you, is it worth the drive?
  • If an online group…
    • …are they emailing manuscripts or using an online work group area?
    • …if emailing manuscripts, how are they sharing comments and feedback?  Word commenting option or ?  Will your word processor be able to open their files and read and comment in the accepted manner?

What to consider when you visit or try out a group:

  • Is the information you found out before your visit consistent with what really happens?
  • Are you comfortable with the meeting location?
  • Do you feel you can work with all the members?
  • Do members provide a good mix of positive and negative comments?
  • Will the size of this group allow your goals to be met?
  • Are you comfortable with their methods of critiquing?
  • How much work got done versus mere chit chat?
  • Is there someone who keeps the group on task?
  • Does the group challenge you?
  • Do you believe you have something to offer the other members?
  • For an online group, are you comfortable with the technology the group uses?

When you choose a group, work hard.  Use meeting dates or submission dates as motivation to get material ready.  Give as well as get.  Take time to see if the group works for you.  However, even if the group is a match, in the future you may need to re-evaluate as goals, schedules, etc. for both you and the group change.

****

About My Guest Blogger:  

 

SM Ford writes for children under her maiden name, Susan Uhlig.  On her website she has book recommendations and articles about writing as well as information about her own work.  http://www.susanuhlig.com/

11 thoughts on “Searching for a Critique Group: A Guest Post by SM Ford (aka Susan Uhlig)

  1. as a writer actively seeking a small critique group I feel a bit let down by the lack of specifics on Where To Find A Group. any suggestions would be appreciated.

  2. my one experience with a critique group via SCBWI was mixed (and largely a waste of time). it taught me that pre-screening people for writing ability and their ability to express themselves well in a critique is essential for the process to work.

    i’ve signed up over at Critique Circle (http://www.critiquecircle.com) but would prefer the feedback of a known entity instead of whoever happens to be passing by, hoping to score some CC credits so they can post their own writing for critique. (maybe i’m being a bit harsh here)

    Nathan Bransford’s blog now has a forums section (http://forums.nathanbransford.com) that has an entire section devoted to people looking for critique partners.

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