How to Benefit the Most from Your Critique Group

“How to Benefit the Most from Your Critique Group” by Joan Y. Edwards

Dear Readers,

It’s great to have a critique group, either in person or on-line. Here are ways to benefit the most from your critique group:

How a critique group can help you

1.      Another person can spot those spelling, punctuation, or grammar that you’ve read over 10 times and didn’t notice.

2.      If you want to know if a particular scene in your book is working, the members in your critique group can give you their opinions.

3.      The people in your critique group can teach you, inspire you, encourage you, and tell you the Blue Ribbon parts of your manuscript, query letter, cover letter, proposal, synopsis, summary, or whatever you ask them to check specifically for you.

Things to remember before your work is critiqued

1.      Give the critiquers the right to like or dislike your work. Accept that it’s okay if they don’t like it. Accept that it’s okay if they do like it. Be ready to ask them to suggest a way they believe would be better.

2.      Be open to change. Change creates a path to a stronger and better manuscript. Decide which parts of your manuscript are non-negotiable and which parts are negotiable.

3.      Put your best foot forward. Use the Spelling, Grammar check in your software to check it before you share it with others.

Questions to ask your critiquer

1.      Ask a critiquer to retell your story for you (James N. Frey’s suggestion from How to Write a Damn Good Novel.) Through listening you’ll discover the strong parts and weak parts. Ask them to tell it in three sentences, beginning, middle, and end.

2.      Which parts, if any, confused you?

3.      Is my dialogue believable? Is it tagged appropriately?

Things to remember after your work has been critiqued.

1.      One person’s opinion doesn’t mean it is the truth. It does not mean what they say is a fact. It is not their opinion about you personally. It is about your writing. Keep the two things separate in your mind.

2.      Don’t change anything you don’t agree with 100 per cent.

3.      Let your manuscript and the critique comments rest in a drawer for at least a week before you do anything with it. Give time for the ideas to take root in your brain and jog around in your imagination.

Three Critique Group Resources

Guidelines for Group Critiques of Fiction by Jennifer Evans

Fundamentals of Fiction, Part III: Critique Groups and Writers’ Groups by Marg Gilks

Thank you for reading my blog.

Never Give Up!

Take Action toward Your Goal!
Joan Y. Edwards
Copyright © 2011 Joan Y. Edwards.

8 thoughts on “How to Benefit the Most from Your Critique Group”

    1. Dear Carol, You are so awesome. Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment. Thank you so much for recommending this blog post to your writing class. I am very proud of your hard work in getting your Teaching the Story: Fiction Writing in Grades 4-8; and also to getting a course lined up at CPCC for you to teach. You are very talented and are sharing your talents with others. Hip Hip Hooray for you!

      Have a Flip Flap Floodle Day!

      Joan Y. Edwards

  1. This is an excellent article. I don’t know how I would survive without my critique groups. I feel this item, “Let your manuscript and the critique comments rest in a drawer for at least a week before you do anything with it” is very important. Sometimes we can be so eager to get done with a manuscript that we start making changes right away without knowing how we truly feel about them.

    Thanks for sharing your tips.


    1. Dear Cheryl,
      Thanks for coming by for a visit. I’m honored that you believe this is an excellent article. Critique Groups can be a major help in getting your manuscripts ready for publication. I’m glad that you think letting your manuscript and critiques rest in a drawer for at least a week before doing anything with it is a good idea. Yes, doing that will help your emotions calm down and give you a chance to think clearly.
      Do something good for you.
      Never Give Up
      Joan Y. Edwards

  2. Hi Joan,

    This was very enpowering for the author and critiquer. I especially liked the reference to Blue Ribbon parts. Clever description. Thanks for sharing such great tips and putting it all in a neat package. I’d like to reach out and wrap your post with a blue ribbon.

    Linda A.

    1. Dear Linda, Thanks for dropping in for a visit. I’m glad that you believe my blog article was very empowering for the author and the critiquer. I’m excited that you like the Blue Ribbon parts. You’re welcome. It was my pleasure to share my ideas. Do something good for you.

      Have a Flip Flap Floodle Day!

      Joan Y. Edwards

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