Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Critique Groups: When?

Now that we've gone over what a critique group is and why it's good to have one, how do we know when to get one?

Sara Allen @http://fromsarahwithjoy.blogspot.com/ says that she recognizes the importance of a critique group, but she doesn't want anyone looking at her manuscript until it is finished. I've heard a few people say that this is how they like to do things, and I'm sure there are plenty more out there who need to finish their first draft before letting anyone else take a look.

On the other hand, I find it very helpful to have a group throughout my writing process. I like to workshop as I go because sometimes I get hung up on plot or character or rhythm or pacing and it helps me to hear other people's ideas even if I don't use them. Most of the time I probably won't use my group members' ideas, but their input helps me see where I need to improve and I fix it in my own way.

Are there other options? Maybe some people like to wait until they've already gone through a couple finished drafts before taking it to a critique group.

I'd say, if you feel ready for a group to help you along, then go for it. But, I will advise that you at least have something written before you look for a group. Ideas alone just won't cut it when it comes to critique groups.

When do you think is the right time for a critique group and why? How do you know when you're ready?


  1. I think it's different for everyone. I have found it helpful to get my crit partners to check out my early drafts in case I need some major structural changes or fill in some major plot holes. It's better to know early than later.

  2. Thanks, Lynda! I agree that it is different for everyone, and that's definitely something that new authors should keep in mind. We don't have to do anything in a specific way just because that's how someone else does it. It's about learning what you need for yourself.

  3. I like your point: critique groups can help pinpoint flaws, but it's up to the writer (or can be) to figure out her best way to fix it. That sums up the fun and function of a critique group (for me).

    I think critique groups are extremely productive when I've written something, sat on it, and rewritten it again. When it's just a first draft, I'm more likely to already know what's wrong with it. If I've already reworked it, I'm less likely to notice what still isn't working.

    And other times it's just too fresh for me to feel like fixing it. So I take the comments home and stuff them in a cupboard and try not to think about it.

    Not too helpful.

    But I'm also a little smitten with the idea of getting other brilliant people involved early on in the creative process. I love idea jam sessions. So electric and satisfying.