Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Feedback & Critique

A three part series

Part 2: Writing Groups -- a bunch of enablers

If you’ve been writing for a while, and you write regularly, your undiscovered oeuvre could be sizeable. Likely, you have a hard drive full of short stories in various stages of draft work. Then there’s the Big Project you’ve been working on for a long time: short story collection, novel, prison memoir. The point is, you’ve got a lot of stuff, you’re steadily producing more, and you have an ongoing need for feedback.

If you’re looking for real critique – detailed comments, suggestions, observations, questions and ideas – your fellow writers are a great resource. Many writers are part of a writing group. Some meet in person, some online, some are more social, while others are completely writing-focused.

Ideally, the group will analyze, capture, and effectively communicate, the strengths and weaknesses of your writing. A stimulating discussion will ensue and you walk away with a new perspective, inspired to write your best draft yet.

To benefit from a writing group, you have to ask yourself some questions. Are you comfortable being critiqued in front of a crowd? Do you want a praise sandwich or do you prefer the bad news straight up? Would you rather work with writers in the same genre as you, or are you interested in a literary writer’s perspective on your Lovecraftian splatterpunk romance? There’s also the issue of commitment. Can you regularly attend meetings and turn in a thoughtful critique of another person’s work?

Many of us have heard horror stories: groups that are too harsh, too sweet, too disorganized, too rigid, damaging video etc.  It comes down to a good fit. Knowing what you want and what you can commit will go a long way toward finding the group that’s right for you.

So how do you find a writing group? Take some classes, attend readings and get to know your fellow writers. Check out free fall fridays or the prose critique group at AWCS. On the digital front, Google is your friend. Sound the depths of your social media. Turn over some virtual rocks and you’re sure to find clusters of writerly larva. More writers than ever are connecting online.

If you've never been part of a group, it's worth trying. Your fellow writers are a wonderful source of support, and meetings can be a lot of fun. There’s something to be said for digging into the wine and nachos, toasting rejections and encouraging each other's madness.

Coming soon…Part 3: Critique Partners 


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Well said. I like my praise sandwich with honey and mustard.

  3. I am wondering if I should be in a writing group and this blog gave me some good points to think about. I think it would be helpful to talk to other writers about the challenges in writing and the time spent alone. Thanks! Diana

  4. I am trying to start a critique group in Cochrane AB, contact me if you are interested and live in the area.