If youíre serious about honing your writing skills, I highly recommend joining a writerís critique group.

 

MY CRITIQUE GROUP EXPERIENCE:

Our six-member critique group meets face-to-face weekly. When we met monthly, members often missed.

What works best for us--besides complete honesty, prayer, and abundant encouragement--is the uninterrupted forty minutes allowed for review of each participant's work.

Each member's manuscript, article, etc. is passed out, read, and given a twenty minute line edit/critique by the other members, followed by a twenty minute oral discussion of the highlights of each evaluation.

The time is watched by our group leader, Vickie Phelps, so everyone gets equal privileges. If a memberís writing needs additional help past the allotted schedule, extra time is provided as long as we are addressing an issue expressed by several members or a particular need the writer is having.

We are a team. Vickie Phelps, Jeanne Damoff, Donna Paul, Nanci Huyser, and Ruth Gilette keep me inspired. Their helpful suggestions tighten my work. Many of their ideas, wording, and, of course, grammar changes make it into print. I hope they smile every time they spot one. I know I do!

I also have a group I call my First Readers. These fine writers and friends provide a full manuscript read-through after the critique group finishes.

Sometimes working with a local critique group isnít possible.  One way to solve this, and to avoid the common writerís plight of isolation, is to find a critique partner online. I recommend ACFW. I've received great story help and encouragement from my cyber-writing friends. Go to www.americanchristianfictionwriters.com for more information.

 

FINDING A CRITIQUE GROUP

 

I have several cautions to add about finding your own critique group:

 

  • Pray before you enter any group devoted to writing. You must develop a trust with people who will revise your manuscript.
  • You canít please everyone. This took me a long time to learn, as my critique group can testify. I used to be far too vulnerable, taking their every suggestion as law. In fact, I would take any professional advice I could get in the same manner. Discouraged by the myriad of opinions I received, I was often miserable, rewriting to please others while I felt like quitting. Now I take other writerís advice, and I apply only what works for me.
  • When you enter into partnership with other wordsmiths, whether in an online critique group or face-to-face, make sure they understand your particular writing style and genre. They should be committed to maintaining your voice while providing suggestions for change. A worthwhile group is made up of writers who are dedicated to personal excellence, as well as to improving otherís work.
  • Donít become defensive. Remember the goal is a published product. The freedom to disagree coupled with a healthy dose of encouragement can help you create a product you can submit to editors and agents with confidence.

 

Critique Group Tips from Pamela Dowd:

Pamela Dowd - Author and Speaker

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