Posted by: penpatience | March 1, 2021

WRITER GROUPS: Critique or Criticism – ARE YOU READY?

WRITERS WORDS: “Writing is like a sport, it’s like athletics.  If you don’t practice, you don’t get any better.” – Rick Riordan

MARCH 2021 MONTHLY MUSING

WRITER GROUPS:   Critique or Criticism – Are you ready?

 

What is a Writer Group?  A Writer Group’s principal focus is writers helping other writers. The basic purpose is to provide encouragement and writing improvement for participants. Most writers welcome feedback on writing projects in the form of critique or assistance in choosing the right words on a page.  However, a writer group must have a specific format providing thoughtful critique and encouragement to ensure its success, or good and bad behaviors might emerge sabotaging the group.  And the group will flounder and die.

A successful group will choose members with a similar balance of skills. Will members focus on poetry, non-fiction or fiction in various genres: romance, mystery, thrillers, sci-fi or will it emphasize one or two specific genres?  Writers more advanced than emerging “newbies” might become bored while a newcomer might feel intimidated reading among published professionals. Each writer needs to evaluate the stage of their writing pursuits and expectations when choosing a group. Every member needs to feel equally challenged and this can be accomplished by individual friendliness, positive rapport and mutual respect.  ARE YOU READY?  Ask yourself this important question. Can I accept gentle appraisals or critical assessments of my work or would I feel offended? If you answered offended, I’d suggest you develop a “tougher hide” before joining a group😊.

The most important group element is member feedback.  Critique is usually an informative opinion by members on a writer’s project. Criticism can be a derogatory attack on the work, nit-picking or disparaging remarks made to a reader (all unacceptable responses).  And…. Who hasn’t heard these phrases, “Oh, I like it, I didn’t like it, it’s good, I guess, Nah, it didn’t get to me?”  These responses are not helpful. Feedback needs to be specific and offer suggestions and encouragement to improve the writing.

Avoidance of unpleasant or ineffective interactions can be achieved through Group Guidelines:

Place, time, and how often the group will meet: My personal preference is Face-to-Face interaction. However, pandemic aside, many groups meet virtually through various technologies (i.e., Zoom) and web-sites.

Group numbers: A manageable group allows all members the opportunity to present their work and numbers should be limited to achieve group goals.

Time Limits: Set time limits on reading and feedback. Eliminate reader rebuttals and defensive comments. A sincere thank you is sufficient.

Member interactions: Members should always practice kindness, respect and provide positive feedback together with constructive critique.

Networking: Interaction with peer writers is a valuable experience. Allow time after the meeting for members to share chit-chat, a few laughs, writer resources and helpful web-sites.

Alas…writer Groups are not static. They change and evolve over time. Some members leave allowing new members to join.  Others move on to other groups, depart due to time constraints, personal responsibilities, moving away, etc.  Writers may join and leave many critique groups throughout their careers.

Writers interested in joining a group can locate opportunities through online sites, local libraries or other writers.  A few well- known online group sites are http://www.scribophile.com, http://www.critiquecircle.com  and http://www.writercafe.org.

 

Happy Writing!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

            “May your glass be ever full.

            May the roof over your head be always strong.

            And may you be in heaven a full half hour before the devil knows you’re

            dead.”    –Irish Saying     

 


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