Posted by: Katie B | October 5, 2010

Why Join a Critique Group?

Here is me when I began this process two years ago:  

My writing is flawless. I don’t need help with my writing, I need help getting published.  A critique group is a waste of time, especially if the group is a bunch of non-professionals.  Who cares what their opinion is?  It’s so subjective, right? What I really need to focus on is writing more, not reworking the same piece.

Right.

Try again.

Listen to the feedback I’ve received recently and tell me if it isn’t priceless. 

  • “I found this portion of the chapter very tidy…my predominant suggestion is with regard to style.  At times, you substitute generalities for concrete actions or words.”  She’s right.  I did.
  • “I found, at points indicated, that you slip into passages of ‘telling’.  Generally, your dialogue is strong enough to convey these ideas without the need for further elaboration.”   Right, I didn’t trust my reader or myself.
  • “This confused me because I didn’t think she was around her cottage, and that they were far from it.  I’m lost geographically here.”  Totally messed up on that one.
  • “This chapter flowed nicely, but quickly.  I wanted more time in the camp.  That part went really fast and didn’t seem as memorable as other parts.”  I hadn’t made a decision about the camp’s role and she caught me.
  • “I’m a little confused about Etienne.  I’d like to know where he stands in the power structure.”  Ahhh…well, me too.  Better clarify that.
  • “The only area I had a hard time with was the explanation of the government.  I still don’t understand the Oracle’s actual role or the Royals.  They seem symbolic, but that doesn’t work with her physical power.”  Another inconsistency was rooted out!
  • “Now I’m confused.  Where is she going?  I thought she was going home.  Earlier, the changed landscape made her nervous, but I haven’t seen a shift in her emotions.”  Right, I had the wrong emotional cues.
  • “These both say the same thing.”  Right, delete.
  • “This is important, but also abrupt.  Anna’s being challenged / threatened and this pulls the focus from the situation.”  Right, lost my tension.

Every time I wavered, they caught me.  My writing is so much tighter because of their input.  Can you imagine if I had submitted the first draft of this novel?  My main character would have been lost, confused, completely relaxed, and saying the same thing over and over.  Bad news.

So, if you think you don’t need help, think again.  We writers write in a bubble, but we need to edit in a group.  Trust me on this.  You’ll save yourself a lot of time and anguish later if you just find a critique group now.

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Responses

  1. How timely! My brother-in-law just finished my whole MS and I had to laugh that all of his comments were on things I had said, “I’ll leave it for now and maybe it won’t be a big deal.”
    Clearly it was/is a big deal, but without feedback I really may have tried to leave it.
    Excellent post, again!


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