The Importance of Critique Groups

It seems that a lot of new writers like to ask the successful or experienced author “What is the most important thing that helps you with your writing?” It also seems to me that most authors almost always give the same answer: critique groups.

If you’re unfamiliar with what a critique group does, it’s easy to sum up. It’s a group of people who read your work and give you good feedback on it. Now, when I say “good feedback”, I don’t mean that they tell you what you want to hear. In fact, if they only tell you good things about your writing, you had better find a different group – fast. But I digress.

So authors say critique groups are important. Why? Well, for many reasons. So many that I might not be able to list them all in this blog. But I’ll try! For one thing, it helps writers to learn how to share their work. I know a lot of writers that will work vigorously on a novel, but when it comes time to have someone else look at it, they can’t bring themselves to do it. In the environment of a critique group, where everyone is sharing their work and getting feedback, it’s a little easier to have others read your work. Everyone takes turns reading each others stuff, and they usually start by telling you the things they liked, then move into the things that need improvement. They are objective in their critiques and don’t try to flower things for you. They tell you how it is.

Critique groups also help you see things that you wouldn’t have noticed on your own. I read a friend’s novel for her and sent her a critique on it. In her book, the main character has psychic powers that are limited in the beginning, then change at the end. This is fine, but the way in which she wrote made it seem sudden. I was confused and asked her if the character’s powers were supposed to develop, and when had they done that, or did she accidentally write the powers differently.  She had no clue that she’d done that and went to work fixing it once I’d pointed it out to her.

Another thing critique groups can do for you is tell you what others are afraid to tell you. When I sent out the first draft of Dissension to my critique companions, they all said how much they liked the plot and what a good job I had done. However, they didn’t like some of my key characters. It was quickly pointed out to me that while my plot was solid, my characters were not third dimensional. It was somewhat hard to take in, but once my weakness was pointed out to me, I used many methods on how to really get into my characters’ heads. (I’ll write a blog all about that later.) It was amazing what a difference it made in my novel.

If you have a critique group that you see on a regular basis, they become your friends, cheerleaders, and champions of your work. They can also open up new connections to help you get published. What it really comes down to, is that a good critique group is invaluable. Once you find one, stick with them and listen to their advice. You don’t always need to follow it, but you should consider what they have to say to you with an open mind. This will improve your work in ways you could never have imagined!

One thought on “The Importance of Critique Groups

  1. Nizamuddin says:

    Happy New Year! Things have been mighty busy but I will visit when time aowlls. Congrats on starting a new book. How exciting to explore something new! Good luck with it and please keep us updated. 🙂

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