Form the Perfect Critique Group

My colleague, Kelly Nickell, is the mastermind behind the titles
we publish at Writer’s Digest Books (with the exception of the annual
market listing guides—more on that here).

On a regular basis,
she writes a column explaining why we decided to publish a certain
book, or what makes it extraordinary or special. Here’s her latest
pick.

When I first proposed The Writing & Critique Group Survival Guide by Becky Levine
more than a year ago, our sales team was a little skeptical. They loved
the outline and the sample content, and they thought Becky had a
terrific platform (which she does!).

But they wondered if we were focusing too much on a niche of a niche by
publishing a book geared toward writers interested in participating in
critique groups.

Luckily, we were given the green light on the project, and the result
is a phenomenal book perfect for anyone who

a) is looking for some
great instruction on revision and self-editing;
b) has only sort of,
kind of thought that maybe they should join a writing group; or
c) is
actively participating in a group and wishes to improve his or her
critiquing skills.

The lovely thing about this book is that, in addition to teaching a new
skill set (critiquing), it also teaches confidence, and that’s such an
important trait for writers. We are, after all, constantly putting
ourselves and our work out there for public scrutiny. Learning how to
interpret feedback, learning how to open yourself up to the criticism
and suggestions of others, learning how to self-edit like a pro—all of
these skills ultimately give you more confidence in the work you’re
showcasing as well as in your own ability to make that work even better.

The book shows you how to:

  • give and receive constructive feedback regardless of genre
  • find compatible critique partners
  • develop your editor’s eye and analyze writing like a professional
  • revise beyond the specific feedback you receive—taking suggestions and going deeper
  • learn from the criticism others receive—what points might apply to your own work
  • distill overly broad feedback to find meaning
  • organize and prioritize all the feedback you get—which points to
    tackle first and why (how one change can solve more than one issue)
  • construct organized and well thought-out critiques

For tips on selecting a writing critique group that’s right for you, check out this excerpt from Chapter 1: Choosing the Kind of Group That’s Right for You.

You can also download many of worksheets from the book,
including ones designed to help you find/start a critique group, as
well as worksheets designed for critiquing fiction, nonfiction, or
books for young readers.

To learn more about Becky, check out her inspirational blog on writing at beckylevine.com and follow her on Twitter under @becky_levine.

Coming soon!

Becky just finished drafting a wonderful six-week course based on her book for WritersOnlineWorkshops.com. Look for Essentials of Effective Critiquing: Mastering the Art of Self- and Group-Critiquing to launch in late February.

You might also like:

  • No Related Posts

0 thoughts on “Form the Perfect Critique Group

  1. Steve

    The book sounds like a valuable and outstanding resource. But I do have one nit to pick.

    Kelly’s description says:

    "The lovely thing about this book is that, in addition to teaching a new skill set (critiquing), it also teaches confidence, and that’s such an important trait for writers"

    This is a worthy goal. But I’m skeptical that this book, or any book, can accomplish that goal. In my experience, confidence depens on two major factors. One is individual temperment. Some people, whether through the benefits of positive life experiences, or successful struggles with negative ones, have a hibitual attitude of confidence toward the activities they undertake. Others, sadly, lack this temperment. The other major attribute of confidence is the support of people around you – friends, loved ones, co-workers, etc. A supportive environment can make a huge difference.

    All that being said, a book can provide skills and knowledge in a particular area, and there may be an increase in confidence that results from being more knowledgeable. But, I don’t see that as "teaching confidence". It’s teaching skills and knowledge. Of course, you may be more confident once your skills and knowledge have increased.

    Aside from that, a book can tecch *about* confidence – how it works, where it comes from, and why one deserves to have it. But having been "led to water" the reader still needs to drink.

    Confidence comes from within, assisted by the support of others. I don’t think any book, regardless of how well-intentioned and well-written can impart it.

    For all that, I agree it is probably an excellent book.

    -Steve

  2. Steve

    The book sounds like a valuable and outstanding resource. But I do have one nit to pick.

    Kelly’s description says:

    "The lovely thing about this book is that, in addition to teaching a new skill set (critiquing), it also teaches confidence, and that’s such an important trait for writers"

    This is a worthy goal. But I’m skeptical that this book, or any book, can accomplish that goal. In my experience, confidence depens on two major factors. One is individual temperment. Some people, whether through the benefits of positive life experiences, or successful struggles with negative ones, have a hibitual attitude of confidence toward the activities they undertake. Others, sadly, lack this temperment. The other major attribute of confidence is the support of people around you – friends, loved ones, co-workers, etc. A supportive environment can make a huge difference.

    All that being said, a book can provide skills and knowledge in a particular area, and there may be an increase in confidence that results from being more knowledgeable. But, I don’t see that as "teaching confidence". It’s teaching skills and knowledge. Of course, you may be more confident once your skills and knowledge have increased.

    Aside from that, a book can tecch *about* confidence – how it works, where it comes from, and why one deserves to have it. But having been "led to water" the reader still needs to drink.

    Confidence comes from within, assisted by the support of others. I don’t think any book, regardless of how well-intentioned and well-written can impart it.

    For all that, I agree it is probably an excellent book.

    -Steve

COMMENT