There is no one way for a critique group to function. So when you’re looking for one of your own, you need to think about what might work best for you. There are three factors to consider:
- Meeting frequency
- Types of critique groups
- Personality fit
Some groups meet weekly, others meet monthly, and everything between. Which to choose is a personal preference. If you’re not in a hurry to complete that novel or non-fiction, or you’re only putting out a couple of pages per month, then a monthly meeting might work for you. If you’re producing more, and want more frequent feedback, than bi-monthly or weekly is for you.
Types of Critique Groups
The following is not all encompassing, just a listing of the types of critique groups I have run across as I tried to decide how I was going to become involved in my next one.
- Online critique groups — These usually involve sharing electronic manuscript pages for review and comment by the critique group members. This involves time outside the critique meeting itself, and a commitment to provide honest and in depth feedback. In exchange, you get the same when it’s your turn.
- In-person “outside reader” critique groups — These function similarly to the online ones, only they meet face to face. Meeting time is spent giving feedback from readings done between meetings. The next round of manuscript pages are handed out. Depending on whether one or multiple manuscripts are handed out at each session, and how long between sessions, it could be a while between your personal feedback sessions. Also, you need to make sure you’re ready to be in the “eye” of a round of constructive criticism. It can be painful, but you can’t let it shake your resolve.
- Reading critique groups — In these critique groups, the bulk of the time is spent actually reading what was brought that night. There are two philosophies for these types of groups:
- #1 — Author reads their own work, then takes feedback from the listeners.
- #2 — Authors trade manuscripts, so they are never reading their own.
This one is self explanatory. Most people join critique groups on a trial basis, and this is a good thing. If you spend some time with the group and decide you can’t stand to be in the same room or hemisphere with them, then this is probably not the right group for you. Keep searching until you find a group that feels comfortable.
So, what type of critique group do I like?
Tune in for my next writing blog and find out.