Pros and Cons of Critique Groups

Hey everyone! My first Newsletter is only a day or two away! In it I discuss what it feels like to share my writing with complete strangers. Also I give a little sneak peek of my current work in progress Lies of the Haven! Super excited! If you would like to sign up for my email newsletter please click here! Sign up will be about halfway down the page!

I also wanted to discuss a little bit about my experience with different kinds of critique groups and what I learned. They are listed out in pros and cons style.

Local Critique Group: 
We met on Meet-up. The meetings were in person and held every two weeks. Each person would read and critique ten pages of each other person’s writing. We had about five people participating.

Pros: I really enjoyed the chance to get out of the house and away from kids and interacting with other writers. We talked about our manuscripts but also other aspects of publishing and writing. I enjoyed seeing people’s physical reactions to my writing and the exposure to different genres.

Cons: The ten pages every two weeks was much too slow for me. For a manuscript that was over 300 pages, it would take more than a year to get through it all!  Also people would bail last minute and as I was the only person using a computer for my edits(everyone else made edits on printed copies), that meant I wouldn’t receive their edits from the past two weeks. I could go a month or more without feedback and by then I had moved on from that section of my story. Plus the printed copies meant I had multiple documents to reconcile. In the end the group was cancelled due to poor attendance. 

Online Critique Group:
Set up through a shared Google Docs folder, everyone went in after they received the link/invite, and set up their own authors folder where they could post whatever work they wanted. Each person would be scheduled a 4 day time slot where everyone else in the group would critique just that author’s work.

Pros: I received a lot of feedback at once from people with differing strengths from all around the world: some were good at grammar, others at tightening, and still others gave suggestions on plot details. I got to see what people really liked and what they didn’t. Because they all commented on one document, I had everything in one place.

Cons: Because it was online, I didn’t have a physical group to interact with so, no getting out of the house away from kids. While I really enjoyed the people in this group, it quickly grew too large and I found myself waiting for several months for my turn to come up again. And my goals required that I move faster than was possible.

Online Critique Partner:
Last but not least I tried a critique partner. We exchanged four chapters of our work every week and critiqued each other’s writing.

Pros:This worked really well for me. We moved faster, and we were both dedicated to doing our share to make each other’s writing better. I received in depth analysis and feedback that helped improve my story and writing.

Cons:The obvious con here was I only got one person’s perspective. I also needed to remember we were both aspiring writers which meant we each had our own weaknesses. While I appreciated and used a lot of her input, neither of us were professional editors.

In order to receive the most comprehensive feedback I used a combination, with mixed results. But every little bit helped and I appreciated all the feedback, big and small I received so far! 

I’m now thinking about starting my own online critique group of no more than 8 people. That way I can get multiple perspectives but also timely feedback. Hopefully the best of both worlds!

Published by thewritingwizard

JA Curtis has always loved writing stories. One of her greatest dreams as a child was to have a book published. She never knew if that dream would become a reality. There were times when she stopped writing and thought she had given it up for good, but she always found herself coming back to it. So she has decided to share those stories in the hope that others might enjoy them as much as she does! When she’s not writing or re-watching ATLA for the 100th time, she is spending time with her husband and two daughters, or trying to live her life with half as much determination as Mina.

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