"Wherever men have lived there is a story to be told." Henry David Thoreau

Monday, March 21, 2011

A Critique Group that Works

My writer's group is a diverse group of men and women who, thankfully, get along famously. I think what makes our group work is that there are no big egos or petty jealousies. Success for one means hope for all. It also helps that we are not all writing in the same genre and, therefore, we're very much on our own career paths, which can't be compared to someone else's.

It makes for some interesting critique sessions. While most of us read a wide variety of books, it gets tricky to offer suggestions on a genre that we might not read and know nothing about. It has forced us all to stretch as readers, writers, and editors. For me, it's made me pick up books in genres I wouldn't normally read so I can offer more insight to my fellow writers. I believe we've all discovered that the same rules of good fiction apply regardless of the genre. All successful plots have the same basic elements: strong characters with plausible conflicts and motivations, personal stakes that are high enough to drive the hero or heroine to action and to sustain the work to its conclusion, characters who grow and change, and resolutions satisfactory to each particular genre.

By reading and critiquing such a wide array of writing types and styles, and knowing our job as a group is to help each other improve, also helps us improve our own work. It makes us appreciate the uniqueness of each genre and realize that each genre requires skill–and a lot of hard work–to achieve success.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Linda, Great post! -Ben

Angela Felsted said...

Yeah, reading in a wide variety of genres is the fun part. Having your work picked apart, not so much. Not to say it isn't necessary, it's just not my favorite thing in the world.

Anonymous said...

I love this, Linda. I have learned a lot from the old and new members a like. It isn't so much as tearing apart our work, but helping to inhance what we've got.

Sherry

Linda Sandifer said...

Pointing out the positive aspects of each other's work is as important as pointing out the weaknesses. Being tactful and considerate, and respecting the hard work each has done is the most important thing we can do for each other as a support group.

Anonymous said...

Wow, I love this. It is true, we have no ego problems or prima donas. We truly do care about everyone's work and that does make us a great critique group. I'm so blessed to be a part.
Sue Anne

Will Edwinson said...

Good post, Linda. I have really enjoyed my association with this group these past years, albeit, I'm doing it from afar nowadays. But that doesn't diminish the help and support I receive from the members for my work.

You're right, we are a diverse group, which I think makes it all the more interesting.

Eunice Boeve said...

I don't belong to a critique group. (Too small a town, the country too sparsly settled.) But I did start a book club a couple of years ago. One of the things I like about it that I can take away from as a writer, is the club's anaylsis of a book. Also because we all chose our books we, as individuals, sometimes have to read books we wouldn't chose for ourselves and that broadens our outlook in many ways.

Linda Sandifer said...

I agree, Eunie. A book group does help us as writers to know what readers like, and also to broaden our horizons.