When forming a new group, it is important to discuss what you are looking for in a group: how often you want to meet, how many pages you’ll exchange each time, and so on. When everyone is on the same page, it can give your group a better chance at success.
If you are new to critique groups, we highly recommend that you read the following article, borrowed from SCBWI’s Blueboard:
SET EXPECTATIONS UP FRONT
This can make a big difference in the critique exchange and relationship in your group.
Be professional. Set time and exchange expectations up front. For instance, are you going to provide your critique within two weeks? A month? (If for some reason you can’t provide the critique at the given time, let the other people know!)
What specifically does the person want you to read for? Big picture comments? Your take on characterization development? Try to be specific.
Share your time and specific critique expectations for your work. What would be most helpful to you?
SOMETIMES CRITIQUE TAKES A THICK SKIN
If you are new to critique, understand that it is important to share what you think about someone’s work in an honest, but polite way.
When we receive a critique, sometimes even the tiniest comments can seem harsh. Remember to give it a few days and try to relook at those comments with an open mind.
It can be hard to “take “ a critique. Understand that there must be a level of trust. Trust your critique partners who understand your strengths and respect your abilities. When they have a criticism, what you hear is, “We know you and KNOW you can do better. And, by the way, we feel your work is worth the effort.”
Finding long-term critique partners can be challenging, like dating (sometimes more like a marriage) but with the specific purpose of making the work in question the best it can be. It is important to treat each other with the utmost respect before, during. and after a critique exchange.
IT’S ALL ABOUT THE WORK
The best manuscripts are revised many, many times before they are ready to go out into the world. Critique is one of the best ways to help you see your work from a fresh point of view. Providing critique to others will also help you develop skills that will make your own work better. Often, you get more out of reading another’s work critically than you do from a critique of your own work.
IT’S YOUR WORK
You decide what feedback is helpful and what does not seem to fit your vision of the work. Please know that you can take or leave the feedback you receive.
Also, those receiving your feedback may not agree so please don’t take it personally.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Setting Up a Critique Group (a PDF with practical tips from SCBWI New Jersey)
SCBWI Social Groups (resources to create your own online distribution space)
Questions? Email Critique Group Coordinator Ginny Kaczmarek at LaMsCritGroups(at)gmail(dot)com