Joe’s Blog #25
How many of us are part of a critique group?
Ever since I started getting serious about my writing, I’ve been a part of a critique group. Why? It’s made me a better writer. It’s that simple. So here’s why anyone not in one might want to consider being in one. A good one.
1) It’s way cheaper than paying a book doctor or so-called editor to look over your manuscript. For the cost of a few coffees for everyone, maybe a donut or two, you can get great feedback on what works and what doesn’t. (Though, in my group, we get to eat all sorts of amazing food and drink, but this may not be the norm.)
2) They can help spot things you’ll never see. “Joe, did you realize you just used the word ‘nipple’ 32 times on page 212?”
3) They ensure your characters don’t go off script. “So how, for the love of God, could Lou, who has just found love again, who is in the process of rebuilding his life, who clearly is moving forward, suddenly up and decide to go on a suicide mission? Why? Tell me, why, dammit?” (The cool thing here is that I created a character they loved, the bad thing was I made him do something out of character without a better explanation.)
5) They can give you great ideas. “What if you made the woman at the airfield younger, prettier? What if she secretly loves him?”
6) They can help you fine tune the technical aspects of your writing. “You need a hook out of this chapter.” “You’re using passive language.” “You should stop writing in crayon.”
7) They can help with spelling and grammar. The kind of mistakes you feel silly making. “It’s H-A-N-G-A-R, not hanger!!!”
8) They can point out the things that work. And here’s one of the things that makes a good group, in my opinion. It’s all too easy to tear something down, to rip a writer to shreds. I’ve had it done. It’s like having your baby mauled by a zombie. But if you get a group that can also focus on the positive, that’s gold. “The details are fantastic, it’s like I’m there in Hawaii in the 1930’s.” “Who knew lighted intersections were not the norm. So cool.”
9) They force you to write. Trust me, no one wants to show up at a session without writing.
10) Last, but not (as they say) least, they provide support. Hey, every one of the writers is going through the same thing, battling the same demons, struggling with the same problems. It’s nice to be able to meet with people who understand what it’s like to agonize over a name or spend hours trying to fix a problem with an imaginary character.
Me? I’m glad to have had some great groups. Each one has helped me become a better writer and, one day, when I finally get published, they can all take a little credit.
I can’t wait to meet back up with my current group.
Queries Sent: 0 (Ok, somebody shoot me.)
Rejections: 1 (grand total, not this week)
People Currently Critiquing My YA Book: 2