Everyone brings different strengths to the mix.
I am not good at line editing. In fact I hate line editing other’s work. Two of the people in my group are terrific at it, and line edit mine without expecting the same thing in return. I’m far better at seeing how plotting and pacing can be enhanced. We all discuss our impressions of each other’s characters, and this is incredibly valuable. Each of us knows our own characters so well, it’s easy to assume that everyone else will love them or hate them in just the way we intend, but this is often not the case
We don’t often reread.
This did not come about as a conscious decision, though it has worked out for the best. I know someone in a different critique group and they have trouble with one member who brings the same piece time after time, changing only a few sentences here and there. I sympathize with a perfectionist nature, but it can end up aggravating people who don’t want to have to validate each word. Another issue of rereading is the problem that people might be miffed you didn’t take their suggestions, yet you expect them to now look at the same piece again where they are likely to have the same issues.
We’re not just looking for validation.
We had one member who didn’t work out, and we actually kind of disbanded the group for a bit, unsure of how to ask her to leave. She wasn’t well-read in the genre she was writing in, and didn’t listen to the critiques. That put us in a bad spot, because we got to the point where we didn’t even want to read her work. I don’t agree with every single critique, but I think carefully about what to use and not use, and the rest of our current group does as well.
Just yesterday, another writer said about her own group, “It really helps me to find out what I have in my head and what I've actually conveyed to the reader.” That’s the toughest part of writing and where a critique group can be key to making a story work.
Oh, and one last tip-Our group meets in a café. That’s why there is a picture of a chocolate dessert with this post. A little chocolate helps any group, right? Anyone else have other tips?
~ Dee Garretson
~ Dee Garretson