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. Weâ€™re an eclectic mix: an anthropologist whoâ€™s read everything under the moon and writes poems about â€œTHE ART OF MOURNING,â€ 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 Iâ€™m now, Iâ€™m amazed at the progress Iâ€™ve made. I admit Iâ€™m not good at tooting my own horn, but Iâ€™m noticing many subtle changes as I sit down every morning to write. A lot of what Iâ€™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, Iâ€™m yanked back on the carpet when my group tells me what worked and what didnâ€™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
- Listen to constructive criticism
- Accept input without taking it personal
- Edit your fellow critique partners’ work
- Grammar, spelling, punctuation, plot, dialogue and everything else that makes a story work…or not
- Scene development
- Authenticity of voice
- A character’s believability
- Work as a team
- Stop being defensive
- Kill darlings
Now go and find that critique group.