What’s the Big Wooha with Critiques?

When I started writing, I’d never heard of a critique group or partner. I just wrote. I wasn’t sure if my writing was decent or not. It bothered me. My husband was not a big reader, and having my young daughters (both avid readers) read the erotic romances I wrote just didn’t seem all too appealing. I did a bit of research and found the concept of critters. After some time, I finally joined a critique group.

My original purpose of joining a critique group was to receive help with my writing. I wanted to know if my writing was rockin’ or not. I thought critiquing the work of others was just a chore I’d have to do in order to reap the benefits of having others review my work. The help I’ve received from critters reviewing my work has been awesome! As a new writer, they pointed out issues which never even crossed my mind. However, there are so many other benefits to critiquing than just receiving a critique.

One advice I’ve found time and time again is to read, read, read the genre you write. It gives you an opportunity to see different styles of writing. Same thing with critiquing. Reading another individual’s work gives you as an author the opportunity to see what works and what doesn’t. As you point out awkward issues in another person’s writing, you might also find similarities in your own work. If nothing else, it might help you avoid making those same mistakes while drafting.

Don’t just stop at giving and receiving critiques. Take time to check out the critiques of others. Use it as a learning experience. After I critique a work, I find it particularly helpful to read other critiques on the same piece of work. Sometimes critters point out issues I overlooked or didn’t realize was problematic because of my lack of experience.

My encounters with other critters has been invaluable in my ongoing commitment to learn the trade. If you don’t have a critique partner or group, I highly suggest finding one. Friends and family are great for building up the ego (usually), but they may not have the qualifications or gumption to offer a real assessment of your work.

Keep in mind, critiquing is subjective. Critters come with various knowledge bases, experiences, and tastes–just like readers. Keep or trash whatever works while taking advantage of the diversity.

A couple of critique groups I’ve used and enjoyed are RWCcritique and Scribophile. Please feel free to comment on critique groups you’ve used and value.

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