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Critiquing Critique Clubs : Conversation question • Page 2 • Writing Forum | WritersDigest.com

Critiquing Critique Clubs

Every month in Writer's Digest's InkWell section, we pose a question related to the writing life. Tell us your thoughts.
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TygerValverde
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Re: Critiquing Critique Clubs

Postby TygerValverde » Wed Mar 18, 2009 3:45 am

I prefer online critique groups. The members can read and critique submissions on their own time, as opposed to having to come up with an answer on the spot in a live group. I think groups with 25-50 active members are best for a variety of input. I like groups that span all genres. It encourages me to write in more than one genre and get valid input. There should be rules of course. If someone doesn't like a particular genre or doesn't know anything about it, he/she should not crititique a piece written in that genre. I prefer in-depth critiques with some editing. It helps me grow as a writer. I want to know what, where, how and why my writing affects a reader a certain way. "I don't like your story" or "Oh you write so well" doesn't help me at all. Nor do comments, such as "punctuation needs attention."
Another important thing is to find a group that is at your level of writing or higher. If the majority of the members write like fifth graders, the group obviously isn't going to give you anything if you write like a college graduate.

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CattyQueen
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Re: Critiquing Critique Clubs

Postby CattyQueen » Wed Mar 18, 2009 6:52 am

Over the years, I've been involved with a number of critique groups. I write romance and horror and my partner writes science fiction. Believe me, I have encountered the 'I just don't understand this genre so I'm not going to give you anything useful' bad critiques. However, I have found that people not familiar with the genre can give valid critiques. Regardless of the genre they write in they can critique pacing, consistency, dialogue and grammar, they can tell you that your bloodthirsty alien is acting too cuddly or ask if the Captain of your 17th century galleon would stop to ask his crew their opinion. Yes, they may question some things a reader familiar with the genre wouldn't think twice about, but is that bad? Just because it’s standard doesn’t mean it needs to be in your novel. And as with all critiques, the writer has the right (duty?) to disregard any and all comments.

I would suggest anyone looking for a face to face group find a casual group. Maybe a local writers group has regular critique sessions or the local Barnes and Noble has a critique group. The larger general group may be just what you need or you may be able to meet others you get along with and can split off to form a more dedicated group.

I currently meet regularly with three other writers—none of us write the same genre—that formed years ago from a larger group. I also meet regularly with a larger more casual group. Each group gives different types of input.

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CattyQueen
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Re: Critiquing Critique Clubs

Postby CattyQueen » Wed Mar 18, 2009 6:52 am

Over the years, I've been involved with a number of critique groups. I write romance and horror and my partner writes science fiction. Believe me, I have encountered the 'I just don't understand this genre so I'm not going to give you anything useful' bad critiques. However, I have found that people not familiar with the genre can give valid critiques. Regardless of the genre they write in they can critique pacing, consistency, dialogue and grammar, they can tell you that your bloodthirsty alien is acting too cuddly or ask if the Captain of your 17th century galleon would stop to ask his crew their opinion. Yes, they may question some things a reader familiar with the genre wouldn't think twice about, but is that bad? Just because it’s standard doesn’t mean it needs to be in your novel. And as with all critiques, the writer has the right (duty?) to disregard any and all comments.

I would suggest anyone looking for a face to face group find a casual group. Maybe a local writers group has regular critique sessions or the local Barnes and Noble has a critique group. The larger general group may be just what you need or you may be able to meet others you get along with and can split off to form a more dedicated group.

I currently meet regularly with three other writers—none of us write the same genre—that formed years ago from a larger group. I also meet regularly with a larger more casual group. Each group gives different types of input.

Jamesaritchie
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Re: Critiquing Critique Clubs

Postby Jamesaritchie » Wed Mar 18, 2009 7:36 am

Is there anyone in the group who knows why a story is or isn't publishable? Grammar, punctuation, format, quality of writing, etc., all matter, but these are not what make a story publishable. If there is no such person in the group, and preferably several, you just have the blind leading the blind.

Jamesaritchie
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Re: Critiquing Critique Clubs

Postby Jamesaritchie » Wed Mar 18, 2009 7:36 am

Is there anyone in the group who knows why a story is or isn't publishable? Grammar, punctuation, format, quality of writing, etc., all matter, but these are not what make a story publishable. If there is no such person in the group, and preferably several, you just have the blind leading the blind.

jrtomlin
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Re: Critiquing Critique Clubs

Postby jrtomlin » Wed Mar 18, 2009 8:40 am

I personally find it useless to discuss a novel on a chapter by chapter basis. It has to be critiqued as a whole in order to look at flow, story arc, consistency, etc. I'm in a long-standing critique group (not casual at all--I'm not sure why casual would be good unless you take your writing casually), a new on-line one and used to be a member of one of the largest and oldest online critique group in existence.

I also get critiques at a website that is run by a SF/F publication where in addition to other writers, the slush readers read and comment (an experience I HIGHLY recommend). I don't look for someone to tell me whether or not my work is publishable. That is something that only an editor can say and EDITORS frequently disagree or else you wouldn't sell a story at one publication that was rejected at others, sometimes a lot of others.

I want to know if my characterization works, if the opening is interesting enough that you'd keep reading, if the plot hangs together or I missed a gaping plot hole, if there are infelicitous turns of phrase, if I slipped up and used a cliched phrase. . .

I'll worry about selling it.

jrtomlin
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Re: Critiquing Critique Clubs

Postby jrtomlin » Wed Mar 18, 2009 8:40 am

I personally find it useless to discuss a novel on a chapter by chapter basis. It has to be critiqued as a whole in order to look at flow, story arc, consistency, etc. I'm in a long-standing critique group (not casual at all--I'm not sure why casual would be good unless you take your writing casually), a new on-line one and used to be a member of one of the largest and oldest online critique group in existence.

I also get critiques at a website that is run by a SF/F publication where in addition to other writers, the slush readers read and comment (an experience I HIGHLY recommend). I don't look for someone to tell me whether or not my work is publishable. That is something that only an editor can say and EDITORS frequently disagree or else you wouldn't sell a story at one publication that was rejected at others, sometimes a lot of others.

I want to know if my characterization works, if the opening is interesting enough that you'd keep reading, if the plot hangs together or I missed a gaping plot hole, if there are infelicitous turns of phrase, if I slipped up and used a cliched phrase. . .

I'll worry about selling it.

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JTLake
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Re: Critiquing Critique Clubs

Postby JTLake » Wed Mar 18, 2009 3:24 pm


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JTLake
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Re: Critiquing Critique Clubs

Postby JTLake » Wed Mar 18, 2009 3:24 pm


JohnOBX
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RE: Critiquing Critique Clubs

Postby JohnOBX » Wed Mar 18, 2009 6:03 pm


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