currently playing on my iPod: You Need Me, I Don’t Need You
Contrary to the song I’m listening to, I DO need you. Well, not you, specifically, but people. Yesterday evening I met with my critique group and was reminded once again of how very important they are. I am fortunate to have found a group with all the necessary criteria.
Criteria? you ask. Yes. Certain aspects must exist within a crit group.
I’ll give you a list. I heart lists like crazy.
1. Honesty–If you find a group of writers who truly want to improve, they will strive to be straightforward about what they like, where they are confused, and which characters pissed them off and why. THERE IS A REASON THIS IS #1 ON THE OL’ LIST HERE. Without honesty, you’re just a group of people having fun and being too nice. That’s cool, but it’s not going to move you toward being a better writer.
2. Creativity–This is my favorite part of working with partners. When you find a plot hole or something that isn’t working in your story, good crit groups will brainstorm with you. They will put down their phones (Btw, no one in my group got theirs out for personal use during our two hour session. Not even once. Radness.), and they will bounce ideas off you and the others about how to fix your problem. Besides being a total blast, such brainstorming really enhances your story.
3. Sense of humor–Don’t underestimate the importance of having a good laugh at each session. If you share a similar funny bone with your partners, you’ll be more prone to make it to those meetings. Fun=Iwanttogotothere
4. Same general genre, different sub genres–Every person in my group writes either YA or MG. We are familiar with the necessary voice in these genres and what’s already out there. That being said, we all write in different sub genres: paranormal, mystery, speculative fiction, dystopian, steampunk. Reading bits from all types of stories keeps us excited about editing/revising/brainstorming.
If you are serious about writing, look around the web for crit group opportunities. That’s where I started. I found my first partner on AgentQueryConnect. I met my other group members at the SCBWI conference. If you keep your eyes open, you’ll find a group that works for you. Just remember, we all have our strengths and weaknesses. Be patient. And we all need a bit of praise to go along with that brutal honesty. We are human.