Why All Writers Should Be in a Critique Group

A couple of years ago I wrote about my writers group. It is time to do it again. Why? Because I want to stress how important a group is to a developing writer. I take that a step farther. A writer who does not receive regular and honest feedback about his work will most likely fail. Without a good critique group, the fledgling writer swims without instruction. He thrashes and paddles, but progress is slow and in many cases, he swims in circles or may drown.

And I want to stress just how big a role my writers group has been playing in my development as a writer. Since starting out in 2009, our group has undergone a number of changes. People joined and left. Some stayed for one session, some for months. Three of the original members remain. We’re an eclectic mix: an anthropologist who’s read everything under the moon and writes poems about “THE ART OF MOURNING,” a veterinarian who tells hilarious stories about his life as a vet, and a management consultant who writes mysteries based in our hometown.

Each of them offers amazing insight, whether it is grammar and punctuation, the correct use of medical terms or pacing. When I look back at where I started and where I’m now, I’m amazed at the progress I’ve made. I admit I’m not good at tooting my own horn, but I’m noticing many subtle changes as I sit down every morning to write. A lot of what I’ve learned has led to greater awareness of what I write, how each sentence sounds and connects, the use of strong verbs, and about weaving dialogue with inner voice and back story.

And every two weeks, I’m yanked back on the carpet when my group tells me what worked and what didn’t. All I have to do is to listen and learn with an open mind. Because our purpose is to help each other become better writers. And I thank them with all my heart.

Ten Things You Learn in a Critique Group

  1. Listen to constructive criticism
  2. Accept input without taking it personal
  3. Edit your fellow critique partners’ work
  4. Grammar, spelling, punctuation, plot, dialogue and everything else that makes a story work…or not
  5. Scene development
  6. Authenticity of voice
  7. A character’s believability
  8. Work as a team
  9. Stop being defensive
  10. Kill darlings

Now go and find that critique group.