I have recently dropped out of several (critique) groups, non-romance related. Those have become sort of a cheering session and not as helpful, although it's great to hear people like my work. I need more of the scalpel and can take it.
And a couple other critique groups involved my driving long distances, or strong personalities took over and it became a club get together or "look how great I write" session... Any suggestions?
These are questions writers ask me all the time.
Fortunately, my friend and fellow writer, Becky Levine, is the author of The Writing and Critique Group Survival Guide: How to Make Revisions, Self-Edit and Give and Receive Feedback due to be published by Writer's Digest Books in January 2010.
I'll post an interview with Becky in the next month. I'll also be teaching a month-long online class, The Art of Rewriting, through the Yosemite Romance Writers in March. You don't have to be a member to register.
Until then, know these basics:
1. To be a writer, you have to write. All the time. Therefore even as you're seeking feedback for you're current project, keep actively writing, even if it means working on another piece.
2. Good critique is that which inspires you to continue writing.
3. If you can't afford a professional editor, you'll have to foster critique relationships, which often means working with less experienced — or less diplomatic — people. You can cut out a lot of aggravation — feedback that's too general and unfocused — by giving your critiquers specific questions to answer. I give a sample of such a list in the back of my book, Growing Great Characters From the Ground Up.)
4. Don't rule out books! Find a writing book that speaks to you and create a checklist regarding character development, format, language usage, etc., with which you can check your work while looking for the right critique situation.
5. Consider starting your own group, either in-person or online. This allows you to set the rules, meeting format and tone.
One way or the other, however, we writers need to have our work read by others to gauge whether we're achieving what we want. So good for Sharon and everyone else who keeps plugging away to find that right source of feedback.