Thursday, March 11, 2010

Critique Groups

Tonight I need to vent. For several weeks now I have been a part of some online critique groups (would have some personal ones if I could ever find any), and have come to a conclussion. They are good - up to a point. A writer must know when enough is enough and that we will not please everyone - especially ourselves. It's so easy to fall in to the trap of thinking that our work isn't good enough. I am no different. I don't know how many times I have wanted to give up thinking that I suck at this writing stuff. But I pushed onward and I am still pushing.

I am not saying that all critiques suck, but they all aren't good either. I have decided to look at critiques as critically as I would when I edit my or other's work.

My first point would be the credability of the person doing the critique. I will look at the critique from an agent or an English major differently than a sixteen year-old highschool student with several unfinished works. I'm not saying that the 16's advice isn't good (considering I'm writing a YA book), but I'll be more selective.

Secondly, I'm going to look at the critique itself. I've noticed that lots of people will question things that really don't have a reason to be questioned. I've been getting the impression that some will critique just to say they are critiquing - but not really knowing what the hell they are asking.

Next I'll want to look at the suggestions themselves. People who say "I don't like this" but don't explain why or provide an alternative may not be worth taking too seriously.

I've also noticed that people have strengths. Some exist in grammar, others in puncuations, while others work well with structure. I think that I'll look at those areas first.

Lastly, what does everyone else say? If someone gets lots off comments on one area, but one reply is out in left field - then perhaps I should not be really looking at what that person has to say.

Well, I'll get off my soap box now and get back to my editing. Thanks for tuning in.

And if you have some across critiques that really piss you off - let me know. I hope I'm not the only one that feels this way.


  1. Hi! I understand your frustration. I'm part of a critique group that meets in person, and it doesn't always feel productive. I think you're right to look at reviews critically, and consider the source. Also, make sure you're part of a group of people who are only truly concerned about the strength of the story. I've been part of some that seemed to exist solely to attack the writer in question, which obviously had more to do with those critiquers' particular frustrations than the actual writing at hand. And I agree, I don't take everyone's critiques to heart, but if a bunch of people are saying the same thing, then I look at it. If that left-field one comes in, I disregard. Good luck :)

  2. I've been in the same place before. I got a lot of face to face feedback in college and realized this same thing that long ago. Now I'm sort of part of a critique that has been very sporadic since last November, maybe earlier. They were great when we were moving along, but lately, nothing's happening. That is almost as frustrating, because you know how good it can be, but then the dynamic falls apart and you are left wanting more. Other than that, I have another writer who we send each other our books for a full critique. Currently we are both working each other's books and its been almost 3 months. Granted both books are 300 page plus. A good place to look for an online group is