Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Critique Groups: In-Person or Online?


Should My Critique Group Be Face to Face or Online?
Over the last several posts, I’ve discussed finding the right critique group.  But is this group virtual or in person? Let’s take a look.

I currently belong to a face-to-face group and an online group and from my experience, I can share a few advantages and disadvantages to each.
Face-to-Face
Advantages
  • You're working and networking with local writers.
  • Trust is more easily established
  • Communication -- verbal, physical and written-- can capture the subtleties in critique feedback.
  • Feedback is immediate
  • Meetings offer not only feedback, but an opportunity to talk about other challenges with your writing process
  • You get to work across genres, unless you live in a community large enough to create genre specific groups
Disadvantages
  • Honest feedback may be more difficult to give and receive in person.
  • Groups can sometimes lose focus, digressing into other matters.
  • Personality conflicts more easily arise face to face.
  • You may not get the genre specific feedback you need from writers outside of your genre.
  • You are restricted by the scheduling of the group meetings.

Online  
Advantages
  • A vast pool of writers, genres, skill levels to choose from.
  • Honest feedback is often more readily given and received.
  • Most online groups function asynchronously, so scheduling is not an issue.
  • More time often allowed to consider a critique before offering feedback.
  • Offer the possibility of participating in a genre specific group.
Disadvantages
  • Participants may drop out or be unresponsive without the in-person peer pressure to engage.
  • More challenging to build trust with a group of people you have never met in person.
  • The feedback process may take days or weeks.
What is your experience with face to face and online groups? Have a preference? Why?  Post a comment. I’d love to hear from you.

Next post I’ll look at how to find your next critique group.


3 comments:

Julie Eberhart Painter said...

I prefer the face-to-face approach. But, everything you said about honesty and genre specific criticism is true.

Veronica Helen Hart said...

I belong to three face-to-face groups, each with its own personality. I particularly like our once a week fiction writing group which averages between 8 and 11 attendees. The group had been running over twenty years and its personality is established. Honesty with positive criticism is the rule and everyone abides by that. There are often a couple of false starts when a new member joins, but overall, this is the best and most constructive group I've ever been in. One of the others is more pat on the back and the third is a combination of both.

Big Mike said...

Very good and agree with all your points. I will add that they have to be people you know will be candid, otherwise their contribution is neutered. Over last 6 years and 18 novels/stories I've gone through bout a dozen and now home in on four regulars that have the fortitude to tell the bloody truth. I cherish every one of them and return the same honesty.

Michael Davis (Davisstories.com)
Author of the Year (2008 and 2009)
Award of Excellence (2012)