Sunday, 5 April 2009

A Brief Word On Critique Groups

I am in the process of putting my latest draft novel, a Victorian Romance set in Scotland in 1900, through one of the two critique groups I belong to. For those of you who are unfamiliar with them, other writers read each other's work and comment on technical issues, characterisation and plotlines etc.

I wouldn't dream of not doing this before I asked a publisher to look at something I have written, because the other members pick up all my weak spots and lazy phraseology. They don't take prisoners and I'm thankful for it - they keep me on my toes!

I received an e-mail yesterday from one of my regular critiquers who hasn't had much time to crit lately as she is bound up with her own writing and editing work. She said she had uploaded the last few chapters I posted, and doesn't know when she can get back to critiquing, so would I mind sending her the rest of the novel as she cannot wait to see what happens!

That, I decided, is why I write - to hear things like that.

And just a quick update to see how the magnolia is doing - I think it's lovely and the first thing I see from my bedroom window every morning. Our gardener is not so impressed as it will start to drop petals any day now.

It flowers briefly but spectacularly - like most artists would wish to.


Anne Gilbert said...

Critique groups can be really good, but one may have to go through several before one finds the right "fit". I was in one critique group that tended to meet in this lady's house. It was an interesting group,but the lady herself wrote these awful short stories(they all seemed to be about death and loss, and were, to me, kind of depressing), and another member wanted to write New-Yorker type stories, one guy was trying to write a novel with "political" humor, and so on. I was the only one writing a sci-fi novel. I was in another critique group where several people seemed to be trying to write the Great American Novel and not succeeding. At least I think that was what they were trying to write. My situation now is much better, because I have a writing partner, that is working on more or less the same kind of novel I am, and understands the process. She also has background strengths aht I don't, and we sort of complement each other, and have become good friends in the process. Also, I got the impression that some members of my former critique groups weren't all that committed to the writing process; most of the groups tended to meet only twice a month. I think people should be able to commit to once a week, otherwise, stuff "stews" too long.

Just my 2 cents/pence,
Anne G

BTW, I really like the way your magnolias are blooming. Out here, they're just starting to, because we've had some truly crappy spring weather up until yesterday. But they're coming along, and today is warm and sunny!
Anne G

Jen Black said...

I left a couple of online groups before I found one that fitted me. I would fnd it very hard to do a face-to-face, real time critique. I need to read undisturbed in my own time rather than hurry to finish or have someone start "critting" before I'm ready. But when it works, it's invaluable.

N. Gemini Sasson said...

I felt like I was writing into a great big black hole before I discovered a critique group.

And the magnolia here is wisely hanging onto its flower buds. It sleeted an hour ago. Below freezing tonight. Two years ago the magnolia was on the verge of glorious bloom when a late, hard frost zapped it and turned all those tight buds black and they dropped to the ground like little flower corpses. I mourned.