Monday, August 18, 2008

Critique Groups

Earlier this month Carol McPhee touched on critique groups in her post, "Brainstorm Troopers..." I'd like to expand on it a bit because thanks to 3 special women it's a subject close to my heart.

The group I joined was wonderful, but it didn't start out that way. We met weekly and for the 1st month, when I left the session I vowed to myself I'd never go back. Those women just did not understand my work; they were trying to make me write the way they write. But gradually I got to know them and more importantly trust them.

You may not click with a particular group but you should give it time to work out. If you're meeting weekly and after 2 or 3 months you still don't feel comfortable, then maybe you should give up and look for another group. Small groups are best, 4 or 5 people, you'll each have time for your material to be read and you'll develop a faster rapport. Meet often, once a week forces you to keep writing so you'll have something to share. And don't forget, it's not just about you. You need to be committed to the others and focus on weeding out the flaws in their material to make it the best it can be. [Hmm, did I just plagiarize a military slogan?]

You don't have to do whatever changes a person or the group suggests. Always remember it's your work. But when a suggestion is made, take a good hard look at that particular part of your work. If they didn't get your point, maybe you didn't write it right or you didn't set it up right or you left out something that should have been seeded in earlier. If a reader doesn't 'get' what's written, it's usually the author's fault.

Oh, yeah, did I mention who those 3 special women are? Since their careers are soaring, you've probably heard of them [shameless name-dropping here]; Jennifer Skully, Cherry Adair and Pamela Britton. Ladies, thanks for your guidance, support, group hugs and most importantly—the laughter.
Love ya bunches.

Rose Lerma


Jasmine Haynes said...

Really, Rose, you were going to leave us during that first month!!?? I never knew that. And I'm so glad you didn't leave.

Love you!
Jasmine/Jennifer (or whatever my name is)

Pamela Britton said...

I'm shocked...just SHOCKED that you failed to mention the imfamous WITFITPOT.

Thanks for the mention. I miss our weekly meeting:(


Chumplet said...

I've been with the same wonderful group of writers for almost three years, and without their support and advice, I'd probably still be wallowing in passive sentences and several thousand redundant words.

Carol McPhee said...

I've belonged to one critique group of which half are guys and sci-fi writers to boot for over 6 years and to another group of women fiction writers for over 2 years. Both, I've learned to trust and most often follow their suggestions. Without their help, I'm sure none of my 10 novels would have become published. Thanks, ladies and guys. Carol.