Saturday, July 10, 2010

When and Where to Find Critique

In  a previous post, I discussed the benefits of getting feedback on your work before you take it to an agent or editor. 
There are a number of ways to get feedback on your work, including hiring a freelance editor or signing up for a writing class or paid workshop with a writing professional. But here I’m talking about peer critique—a reciprocal process where writers read and critique each other’s work and so improve through the process.

When should you seek feedback/critique on your work?
For some writers, early critique can be a story killer. Writing a first draft and revising it are two separate skills. Those writers will want to finish the entire project and do a first revision before showing it to anyone else.
For others, early feedback can help set them on the right path. The right critique group can help them see the potential in their story.
In order to make the most of a critique opportunity, I think it’s best to honor your readers with fairly polished work. You don’t want your expert readers to spend their time on line edits, grammar and spelling. Take your work as far as you can on your own—then seek help from others.
If you are actively publishing, deadlines must be considered also. If you want the benefit of critique before you submit your final manuscript to that editor or agent, that timing will be a factor.

Where can you find feedback?
Writing organizations, such as the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, the Romance Writers of America, the Mystery Writers of America, and the International Women’s Writing Guild often sponsor local chapter meetings and online and in-person critique groups.  These groups may require membership in those organizations, but should welcome visitors for a few meetings.
A Google search on “writers Cleveland OH” turned up links to the Lit, a home-grown writing organization that sponsors book clubs, workshops, and classes, the Ohioana Library, which focuses on Ohio writers, and the Ohio Center for the Book, associated with Cleveland Public Library.
            Local libraries and bookstores often host writing workshops and meetings, and may know of writers meeting in your area. Sometimes a workshop can grow out of a writing class or program. One of my first critique groups grew out of a fiction-writing class I took at a library. We continued to meet for more than ten years.
Some writers don’t belong to a formal critique group at all. They may have a few trusted readers who provide that service. It may be tempting to ask your spouse or siblings to read, since they are conveniently at hand, and may be willing and interested. As a writing professional, however, ask yourself whether they are the best readers for your work. And whether the feedback from that reading might damage a valuable relationship.
Future post: Strategies for Successful Critique

Links to Writing Organizations

Here are some links to get you started.
Local Writing Organizations by state on Squidoo:

List of  National Writing Organizations on Novelspot:

And ebook crossroads:

Some Genre-Related Writing Organizations

1 comment:

Afton said...

Thank you so much for this post. I was thinking of just asking for a critique group for Christmas, but this seems to be a much better way of going about it.