Critique Groups: Safe house or Slaughter-house?

I love my critique group, Novel Clique. We are a group  of professional writers which gives craft related presentations, attends conferences/workshops (we’ll be at OWFI in May), we even have an annual writers retreat, which is a whole other post. We meet once a week, bring 10-20 pages of our WIPs, and take turns reading them out loud. This helps us hear the voice of the piece and allows us to hear mistakes we’d otherwise miss.

Afterward, we give on the spots critiques, which is my favorite part. I love being able to ask my critique partners clarifying questions about what they intended to convey in a certain paragraph or scene, or give suggestions on how to take the optimal advantage of already existing conflict. And even though it might be considered cheating, I sometimes ask about foreshadowed events and red herrings, cause I’m curious like that. I also like having the chance to ask them whether something I wrote is clear, if it’s too much or too little, or confusing.

The feedback, encouragement, and let’s be honest, group therapy I get from my partners is priceless. I was lucky enough to stumble upon them during a writing class at a local community college and have stuck with them ever since.

Are you part of a critique group? How did you find it? What’s your favorite part? Is it a safe house or a slaughter-house? And if you don’t belong to one, is there a reason you decided not to join one?

What is your opinion on critique groups?

First Crusade Challenge answer: I HATE exercise.

Congrats to everyone who guessed! This challenge was a blast and I’m half tempted to add a MacGirlver page to my blog to offer people fun solutions to everyday problems.

15 comments on “Critique Groups: Safe house or Slaughter-house?

  1. I love critique groups and find both constructive and complimentary criticism to be extremely beneficial to any writer. When I was in highschool, I ran a writers’ critique and practice group for three years. The lessons I learned about my writing and the friends I made are invaluable to me. Now that I’m in college and have moved away, I wish that I had a critique group. Hoping that I’ll find one online.
    ❤ Gina Blechman (fellow crusader)

  2. tangynt says:

    Drat, I didn’t get around to guessing soon enough, but that would have totally been the one that I selected.

    As far as my opinion on writers groups, they completely mirror yours. Mm, I wonder why… ^_^

  3. Marieke says:

    Between my critique partners and me we form a safe slaughterhouse. Just the way I like it! 🙂

    Nice to meet you, fellow Crusader!

  4. Nicole Mc says:

    I have found the most wonderful critique group! wink.

    I got very lucky how all the stars aligned on that…and I love the MacGirlver blog section idea!! Do it!

  5. LM Preston says:

    I only started being part of a critique group this year. It’s a great way to get together with other writers. However, the group isn’t as mature in their writing as I am and I really have only started doing it more as a way of getting face time with other writers. I get best results doing beta switches which work out well.

  6. Vicki Tremper says:

    I love my critique group! We’re a safe house – we support each other, give advice and share a piece of our lives, but we also give each other honest opinions about our work. I don’t know where I’d be without them!

  7. lbdiamond says:

    I’m not a part of a critique group “in person,” but I do have a couple very trusted crit partners who have helped me learn SOOOOO much about writing.

    Nice post!

  8. Diana says:

    I love my critique group. It took a while to find a solid 4 members who didn’t get caught up in their wounded feelings. Gotta be tough and a critique group is a great way to build that thick skin.

  9. @ LM – I hear good things about beta readers. How’d you find yours?

    @ Vicki – sounds like a well functioning group

    @lbdiamond – the ‘in person’ is optional. Great support is a must.

  10. dawnall says:

    That group sounds a lot like mine..oh, wait…it is mine. 🙂 We rock! I’m so glad I get to see you guys ever week.

  11. Alison says:

    I have several critique partners, but sadly – no group. I would love to have that interactive experience! A few people in my area have been trying to start something so maybe – one day.

    Fellow crusader! Nice to meet you!

  12. @ Dawn – 🙂

    @ Alison – The interactive experience is wonderful. I always leave group feeling charged and ready to write.

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