Sunday, March 22, 2009

Article: "Ten Steps to Organize a Writing Critique Group," by Carma Dutra

Have you been wondering what your writing needs?

Are you talking to yourself... out loud?

Do you wonder what it would be like to talk to someone else about your writing?

If you answered Yes to any of these questions, you're ready to join or create a writers' critique group.

Critique members are supportive, critical, and attuned to the work and not the personality of an individual member. Also, they intend to publish their work. You can find critique groups online through organizations or you can form a person-to-person group where you live. If there is no writing group in your local area, check with bookstores and libraries. Create flyers; post them in coffee shops and bookstores. Network with local organizations.

10 Steps for Organizing a Critique Group:

1. Find a group with similar goals and focus. Is your group open to all genres or is it specific? Memoir? Do people want to publish? Explore character? Having similar goals and a focus will create commitment and synergy.

2. Limit the number of members. Four or five is a good starting place. If one person leaves the group, replace him/her with a new writer. Fill empty spots by invitation and agreement by the group. This builds trust and respect in your group.

3. Establish a time and day that is suitable to everyone. For example, one evening every two weeks or a weekend day. Twice a month is usually better than weekly because it gives the writers a chance to write and edit in between meetings.

4. Establish a meeting place that works for everyone. Find a coffee shop or meeting space that can accommodate the size of your group or take turns meeting at members' homes.

5. Create a deadline for submitting work to each other by email. This way, every member should have time to read the work before the critique session.

6. Critique the writing, not the writer. Find what works and what is good. Be objective, as if the writer is absent.

Example critique: "There is a POV shift in this section...I want to know more...perhaps another word would work better here..."

Get the picture? Give the writer time to explain unanswered questions.

7. When receiving critiques...sit back and take notes. Be quiet. Let the questions and comments fly. Don't throw heavy objects. Also, don't spend time defending your work or explaining why you wrote things the way you did. Your writing needs to work on its own, without explanations.

8. Critiques must have a time limit. Calculate the critique time based on the length of the meeting and numbers in the group. If you have a large group you can divide up critiques every two weeks.

9. Don't socialize too much. Your purpose is to get feedback about your work. Be reasonable. You can get to know each other in many other ways.

10. Most importantly, respect confidentiality. Make an agreement with the whole group. Don't steal ideas, and don't talk about the work outside the group except in general terms if necessary.

Follow these steps and soon you'll be enjoying the support and constructive feedback that a strong writers' critique group can provide.

You can learn more tips about writing, writing for children and basics of writing at Carma's Window at http://carmaswindow.blogspot.com Also download the free EBook "unite to Write," a compilation of thirteen top expert authors as read on EzineArticle's directory and "Free Tips on Freelance Writing"

www.tips-fb.com

1 comment:

L. Diane Wolfe said...

As with any critque group, remember the true purpose of a critique - it is to build up and make better, not tear down!

L. Diane Wolfe
www.circleoffriendsbooks.blogspot.com
www.spunkonastick.net
www.thecircleoffriends.net