Late last year, I posted on Brodi Ashton's blog asking about how her critique group had found each other (her group is one of the wonderful ones that meets in person). Well, Robin Weeks who also follows Brodi kindly let me know about her online critique group at David Farland's Writers Forum. Dave is a wonderful supporter of writers as well as a well-known author in his own right. He teaches classes on writing, and I think he's been at all three conferences I've attended in the last nine months. Members of his Writers Forum who were attending LTUE were able to get together at a local restaurant for dinner. It was lots of fun, and I got to meet in person several people I'd conversed with online.
Anyway, when I joined Dave's writer's groups I found there are a number of individual groups based upon genre. I applied to join two of them. One was for the romance genre, since my finished ms is a romantic suspense. This group is not very active right now, but the two ladies there are very supportive.
I also applied to Robin's group for YA fantasy. This is a very active group, and I've learned so much already. As I detailed last fall, I signed up for a college creative writing class ($770 in tuition for 3 credits) hoping to learn more about the craft of writing. I knew within a week this class wasn't what I was looking for and dropped it. I learned more in a month with the Pied Pipers critique group than that class would have taught me.
But critiques need to be about what works as well as what doesn't. Sometimes it's too easy to get caught up with finding the errors. As with our children, we need to catch the writer doing it right.
Now, as the writer, I must realize that I can't please everyone, even in my critique group. But I should seriously consider what I'm being told and decide how best to use the input to improve my book--or not. A funny thing happened with my first submission. None of my beta readers had ever had any doubt about the gender of my MC. Yet two of the critiquers in my group got the impression she was a guy and that totally changed how they looked at everything. Considering the number of people who have read the beginning of my book, that's a good 10% of the people who could potentially think my MC was a gay guy. It was an easy fix for me to make, but one I wouldn't have considered without their input.To me, that's priceless.
The things I'm learning from this critique group doesn't t just come from critiques on my writing but on the critiques I read on other members of the groups. I'm learning what I should be looking for, how to be a better critiquer myself. I'm still really new and raw at it.
I know a very talented woman, who's written two books. I've read comments she's made in an online forum, and she's intelligent and writes very well. I imagine that her books are really good. But I'll never get the chance to know because she won't let anyone read them. Anyone.
When my oldest daughter decided to run for student body president in the 6th grade, she made a comment to me that was very profound and wise beyond her years. It's something I wish someone had told me when I was in younger. She said she could never win if she didn't try.
Well, she did try, and she did win. Did I ever mention she's my hero?
How about you? Do you have a critique group? Do you meet in person or online? What's your experience been?