Critique Groups – Do you need to join one?
Assume you’ve written the perfect novel, and you’d like to start looking for an agent or consider self-publishing. How do you know your craft is up to minimum specs? You might find some friends or family members to read your work, but will you know whether their praise is for your writing or your relationship?
One way to solicit independent feedback about your writing is to join a critique group with other writers. Don’t bother with groups that charge for memberships, as there’s no shortage of free groups to choose from—both online and in person. Simply do a web search for groups in your area.
Libraries host them,
Meetup advertises them, and
Tons of organizations sponsor them (e.g., if you’re in Colorado check out: Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers or Lighthouse)
To help you give and receive feedback from like-minded authors, many critique groups specify a genre. If you write Horror, wouldn’t it be great to have other Horror writers give you detailed feedback rather than your Uncle Steve (unless, of course, your uncle is Stephen King)?
Before you commit to a group, audit a session to see if it’s a good fit. Consider whether the feedback you hear is respectful and meaningful. Think about whether the authors are receptive—no one wants to join a group with a bunch of defensive writers who argue about advice.
Hopefully, you’ll find a supportive critique group who will give you truthful tips about your writing. While you’re at it, you’ll gain insights about craft from critiquing others’ work. If you’re lucky, after getting to know the members, you might develop friendships and find new beta readers.