Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Critique Groups: Part 2 - by Kathy Halsey

Back in November before the deep freeze hit most of the country, I asked a question in KidLit 411 about critique groups. That question warmed up the FB chat, so today I give you part 2, advice from writers who frequent the 411 "water cooler." (Here's part 1, the Nov. post on critique groups.) 

Advice  and Links from Others
In my first post, I discussed that one may not find the "right" group and that cycling through a few 
groups/partners is really part of the process. Author and 12x12 leader Julie Hedlund agreed. 
Julie said, "One thing people should know is that it can take some time to get the 'right' group. Don't be disheartened if you try a few groups before finding one that's a great fit."

On a related note, writer Michele Blood cautioned, "RUN AWAY if you smell trouble. I learned the hard way.
However, trouble rarely happens when you connect via SCBWI or in respected groups such as Julie's, 12x12Sub It Club or Sub Six. 

Susan Uhlig Ford has written number of posts on critique groups and also wrote SCBWI guidelines, too. Here are links to some of her posts:

  • For beginners and those needing a new group look here.
  • For various types of critique groups. Look at detailed methods here.
  • Susan also offers a way to classify comments after a critique and what to do with them here. Personally, absorbing comments and suggestions usually is my sticking point. 
  • Finally, Susan suggested we look at critique rules and how/when to break a rule over at The Write Conversation blog here.

What Else Can a Critique Group Do?


My current group of six writers meets weekly even if we all can't make it online that night. It's important to establish routines and habits, so sometimes only a few of us meet. On such evenings we may not work on anyone's manuscript but still do writerly work. We might do any of the following:
  • Read picture books to each other that could be used as comp titles for WIPs. Since we use Google hangouts, we can share the illustrations, too.
  • Discuss webinars or classes we recently took and share notes.
  • Brainstorm new ideas or share beginnings and endings of WIPS to see if they work as "bookends" for each other.
  • We also keep a private FB page and post agent alerts and submission opportunities. 
Why does all this work? This group is a BEAST 
because we all contribute content and energy to making our goals into realities. Not all critique groups run this way, but our combined efforts make us accountable to each other. In this new year of possibilities, may you find the right critique partner/group for you. 









24 comments:

  1. Great tips, Kathy! Each critique group has its own culture. That's neat you meet online weekly.

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  2. Your group sounds FANTASTIC Kathy!!!!

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    1. I've been searching for a bit to find such a group.

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  3. You've given us some good ideas of ways to enrich our critique groups. They are vital, aren't they?

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  4. Thanks for all of your work here, Kathy. Great article.

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    1. TY, David. I appreciate you stopping by the GROG. We aim to help.

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  5. These are some good tips, Kathy. (And I'm kinda jealous of your crit group . . .) For me, though, I think weekly would feel like too often or too much time pressure. That said, right now I'm in three monthly groups, which works out pretty well for me. Whatever arrangement we have, writers gotta have crit, right?

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    1. If you are in three monthly, that's almost like us. :) Writers gotta crit, yes.

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  6. Excellent suggestions and tips, Kathy. Thanks for sharing how your group works. Critique groups, whether online or in person, offer opportunities to share, create, discuss, motivate, and support.

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    1. Absolutely, Anne. Here's to you in 2018!

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  7. I'm still chuckling over the suggestion that you write your dog story in the shape of a corgi. I'm glad you finally found a group that works so well for you. I love mine, too. Just wish we we could meet more than once a month, although we do email or text each other when we have urgent questions. Thanks for sharing your experience with others so they, too, can find their way in the wild and wooly critique group world.

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    1. Aroooo, Jilanne. Yes, that was quite the interesting first critique group.

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  8. As you stated, Kathy, routine and habit are key elements for writers.

    Finding the *just right* critique group/partners is part of the writing journey. Sustaining a successful writing group, whether if in-person or on-line, with like-minded individuals can be a challenge.

    Patty Toht recommended an excellent read in a GROG Blog post, August 14, 2015. I, too, recommend the book with great messages from numerous writers. THE WRITING GROUP BOOK: Creating & Sustaining a Successful Writing Group. It is edited by Lisa Rosenthal.

    Here is the link:
    https://groggorg.blogspot.com/search?q=the+writing+group+book

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    1. TY, Garden Girl. I'll look for it at my library.

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  9. Proud Kathy is my critique partner :) These are great tips for finding the right home to grow those writing habits.

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  10. Great Post. When our group was created it was imperative that reading pb text be part of our time together. It has grown into this organic engagement of sharing, and analyzing allowing insight on research, structure, language, and simple readability. And we have such fun. I do not take what we have for granted. Again, Great Post.

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    1. Pam, we know a good thing when we get it.

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  11. It's so wonderful when you find a great critique group. I have two groups - one that has been going for a LONG time, and one specifically for poetry. One year, one of my groups wrote a group novel with different writers progressively adding chapters. It was super fun when a great twist was thrown into the story.

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    1. Now that sounds like fun, Patty. Here's to great critique groups.

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