Sunday, January 8, 2012

Critique Groups

As I was reading SCBWI's blog, I came across this wonderful little video:

You have to watch it! It's awesome!

When I first started out, I didn't want to share my writing with anyone. The only people who saw my work was:

  • My husband
  • My mom
  • My dad (the video really hits home for me because my dad is the sleeper)
  • My dog
I used their judgements to decide if it was good, and I will tell you, I was an awesome writer, hardly had any mistakes, and should have had every manuscript published. My dog always gave me kisses to let me how great it was.

As I began to become a more serious writer, I realized I needed other people to look over my work. I looked, and looked and looked and found myself not one critique group, but three. (Can you say overachiever?)

One is a chapter book, and two are picture book groups.

With the picture books groups, I love being able to make changes, and switch it between groups. So it's worked out well.

I met my partners through SCBWI's message boards, and we created our own because no one was looking to add another member. So we have all been together since the start.

I've learned more in my critique groups from working on the other writer's manuscripts then my own received edits. In my partners' work, I see my own mistakes pop out like a red thumb and see how they do look. I'm able to look at them objectively and see things I like, or learn how to tighten my writing. I've really learned a lot about how weak verbs and nouns can really dull a story.

If you are not part of a critique group and are a serious writer, find one. Mine are all online.

Are you in a critique group? What have you learned from it?


  1. Debbie, that was a FABULOUS video! I LOVED it!! I am a member of a number of different critique groups, depending on the type of work I am submitting to them. I have one for new writers, one for poetry, a couple for picture books, one for fiction in general, one for flash fiction, and one for MG and YA novels. I write in a number of different genres, depending on what captures my interest at the moment so I want to make sure I get feedback from "like" individuals as well as a cross reference if other people might like my piece of work as well...all of them have helped me become a stronger writer and I am certain that I would not be as confident as I am today without their wisdom and support!

  2. My picture book critique group originally formed from a group of us from the first Write on Con. We've had members come and go, but it's always had the same heart. It's a great group and my picture books would never have grown without them. I love that everyone in the group is honest, but respectful.

    I agree with you--if you aren't part of a critique group, you should find or form one as they are so beneficial.

  3. Excellently written. I found the video to be a sspupporting tool for the point you are making. I say, if anything, read your article. :)

  4. I was a little slow getting on board the critique group boat, too. It took a while to find a compatible, productive group, but it made a world of difference in my development.

    Seeing and noting mistakes and weaknesses in my partners' manuscripts enabled me to better see my own. I also find the creative contributions of my partners really stimulating. Ideas beget ideas.

  5. What a super video. Thanks for sharing it. As a writer and illustrator, I am part of two separate critique groups, one for the words and one for the pictures. It's so critical to get the second, third, and fourth opinions.

  6. Aah yes. SCBWI always seems to say the right thing. It is very tough to let your guard down those first few times.

  7. Meeting all these SCBWI folks through the Comment Challenge is getting me warmed up to these ideas of "critique groups" and "sharing my work." ;^)

    So, thanks!

  8. We are a critique group that started a blog. We came together through SCBWI, attended the anniversay .conference together in 2011 and even shot a Pirate Alphabet video together with some of our favorite authors.
    Come visit. Check out the ABC's of Piracy

  9. I am in agreement! Sometimes it can be difficult to find that group that really works for you, where the chemistry is right -- but when you do, it is magical and educational, all at the same time. :)

  10. Great video. I agree with Twain too that the point is to pitch new writing at the man who always goes to sleep and to try and keep him awake! Too often the budding writer listens to "hypercritical person" who in the grand scheme of things isn't overly important.