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Archive for September, 2019

 

CRITIQUE GROUP GUIDELINES TO HELP START A CRITIQUE GROUP

Do you belong to a writers’ critique group? Do you believe you need opinions from other writers to improve your writing?

All writers should belong to a local critique group that will “tell it like it is.” Nothing will improve your writing better than having objective criticism, both positive and negative, from a group of peers.
As promised, I’ve included the guidelines for you to follow if you plan to start your own group. Please feel free to copy and use at your own discretion:

Critique Group Guidelines

1. Pick one person to be the leader of your group or rotate by having a different leader every time you meet. Choose a central location to meet. Our group meets at a local coffee house where the owner allows us to rearrange a few tables in the corner of the place where we can sip coffee and discuss.

2. Several days before the meeting, the leader should email or call everyone to find out whos bringing something to critique. The leader then plans how much time will be allotted to each writer at the meeting. Example: we have a two-hour meeting once a month. If five of us bring something to be critiqued, we each get about 20-25 minutes total time for the critique. Its best for the leader to have a timer. We usually limit our pages to about five typed double-spaced pages. But that depends on how many writers want to be critiqued.

3. At the meeting, open with the sharing of news, i.e. someone has been accepted for publication, someone is speaking somewhere or having a book signing, etc.

4. Each person who has something to critique should bring copies for all members. The author has a choice to have his/her work read aloud by another member while the group critiques with pen or to have it read silently while the critiquing is being done.

5. After the reading, each person, other than the writer, discusses the manuscript read. The leader should control the input by giving each person at the table a turn to speak, going clockwise or counterclockwise. The author is encouraged to offer his/her input. Also, the leader should prevent discussions and personal trivia that chase rabbit trails and have nothing to do with critiquing the manuscript. Then the manuscript copies are handed back to the writer. Fellowship and sharing can take place before or after the entire critiquing session is over.

6. Before dismissing, the next date for the critique meeting should be set.

7. Alternative critique plan:

If everyone in the group has email and knows how to send and receive attachments, the group can decide to send work ahead of time (at least a few days to a week) to each member of the critique group via email attachment. Then the writer critiquing the work prints it and brings the copy to the meeting where the suggestions and edits are discussed.

THE ART OF CRITIQUE:

1. It offers a chance to communicate with each other. First, tell the writer what you enjoyed about the story and its strengths. Be positive about something.

2. Then review what you think needs work. Sticky opening, weak characters, weak plot, unnatural dialogue, etc.

3. Be careful not to over-critique. Each writer has his own individual voice or style of writing. Other than correcting obvious punctuation, word usage, grammar and punctuation, try not to rewrite the work. It will then not be the original authors work. It will be yours.

4. As the author of the work, you should process the critique comments. Decide if the critique really hit home. Some writers dont change anything unless they get at least two or three comments about the same area of work. Try not to be offended. Critiquing is a valuable tool to make you a better writer.

5. Remember, you are the final judge of your work.

HAPPY WRITING AND CRITIQUING!

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ARE CRITIQUE GROUPS VALUABLE?

Some members of the Susquehanna Valley Writers Group, Selinsgrove, PA

 

Absolutely, undeniably yes. My local critique group has helped make me the writer I am.

One of the most valuable tools you’ll ever have in your writing career is a local critique group comprised of other writers.

Some groups meet once a week; others meet once a month. The choice is for the group to make. Some groups meet in the members’ homes; others meet at libraries, bookstores, or cafes with quiet corners. Again, the choice is the group’s.

If you don’t belong to a local critique group, make it a priority to join one. If you aren’t sure there even is one, then determine to start one yourself.

So, how do you get the word out that you are interested in a critique group, either joining or starting?
1. Ask for information at your library or bookstore. If they know of no critique group, prepare an 8 1/2 x 11 poster and ask if you can post it. Put your name, phone number, and email address on the poster.
2. Mount posters in your local grocery stores and mini-marts.
3. Place a free ad in your local “service” newspaper, the one that allows you to buy and sell without paying for an ad.
4. Call other local authors you know and ask about a critique group. If they aren’t members of any, encourage them to help you start one. You really only need three or four other writers to start, and not all need to represent the same genre. Six to eight members are ideal if you plan to meet for two or three hours at a time.

So, there you have it. Get busy with that critique group. If you become accountable to someone for your writing on a regular basis, you will write more often, and you’ll write better!

(Next time: The Guidelines for a Successful Critique Group)

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Writers’ Tips for Newbies: After the Conference

Today’s tips are for all you beginning writers out there who have a great idea and don’t know where to start.

If you attended the last Montrose Christian Writers Conference in July, I trust you learned all kinds of things to help you become a published author. Let’s rehearse a few tips you probably learned to get you writing the next best seller!

If you’ve never attended any writers’ conference, it might be a consideration if you’ve got some ideas about becoming an author.

1. Start writing. Don’t just talk about it. Do you have an idea? Many good ideas? Don’t let those great creative ideas die in your brain cells! Get that computer out and start pecking away.

2. Join a local critique group. This has helped me become a better writer more than any other training, reading, or writing I’ve done. You must have a thick skin and be willing to accept criticism, but in the long run, your writing will improve drastically. Our group in the Susquehanna Valley (PA) meets once a month when everyone brings copies of about four pages of their latest work to have critiqued.

3. Attend writers conferences. Second only to the critique group, writers conferences have molded me into the author I am today. Writers conferences offer numerous workshops on different genres. You also meet other writers who have the passion to write as you do. They UNDERSTAND YOU! And … try to attend conferences where editors and agents are on faculty. Many writers have acquired contracts by meeting “the in-crowd” at conferences. Three of my four book contracts and several purchased articles resulted from contacts at writers’ conferences. Conferences are an essential part of your training.

4. Read, read, read! If you want to write juvenile fiction, read all the published juvenile fiction you can get your hands on. Likewise, if you’re into Amish romance, don’t spend time reading science fiction or fantasy. If you want to learn how to handle your genre, then study your genre. I have pages and pages of “good writing” excerpts that I’ve copied from published books. Once in a while, I open that file and read through the segments that show me excellent dialogue, good narration, and well-done character description.

So, there you have it. If you have the burning desire deep down in your soul to write, then get going! But consider yourself a work-in-progress just as your manuscript is. The more you learn, the better your writing will be!

 

 

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