Tuesday, April 14, 2009

How to Find a Critique Group

With our recent Blog Chain post being on critique groups, I’ve have them on the brain lately. So I thought I’d share some tips on how I found my critique groups and partners.
As with everything, there are many, many ways of going about this. But, this is what worked for me.

1. Google
You really can find just about everything on Google :) When I first set out to look for a group, I had no idea where to begin and lived in a remote area where finding another writer was going to be difficult, if not impossible. So I hit the internet. I googled for “online critique groups” and started scrolling.

Going about it this way is going to turn up a lot of results. So choose carefully. In my case, I found a group with an extensive screening process. I had to submit an application of sorts, with a bio and writing samples. I was reassured that this group was legitimate because they were obviously very careful about who they let in.

I very much enjoyed my time with my group, and learned A LOT. I was a very green writer when I started with them; they showed me the ropes, the rules, helped me get my writing under control. Finding a good group is invaluable.

2. Writers Websites and Forums
When I first starting seriously writing, I joined as many writer websites as I could find. I wanted to learn as much as I could about the whole publishing world. I did okay at writing, but I wanted to be better. I found a ton of sites; only a handful were really good, valuable places. Through these sites, a met a few good writing friends. We exchanged some material, and I had my first few critique buddies.

Again, practice caution. Not all sites are there to help writers. Some just want to take advantage. But you can find some really excellent sites. I usually enjoy AbsoluteWrite. They have some excellent information available to writers and I met some really great people there.

But my all time favorite site is QueryTracker.net. I know I posted a lot about them last week, but I just can’t say enough good things. I joined the site and forum when QT was just getting started, and I was lucky enough to become very close with the members of the site. These people have not only become my critique partners, but are close friends as well.

3. Local Writing Groups
This isn’t something I’ve tried myself as I live in a very small community (and have such a great online support group). But in larger communities, you should be able to find writer’s groups. Your local library is a great place to start looking. Check the newspapers as well. Being able to meet with your crit partners in person can really be a great experience.

4. National Writers Groups
Organizations like Romance Writers of America, and the Society of Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators have many different chapters you can join. I know with RWA, there are chapters specialized in the different sub-genres of romance as well as chapters by location. These types of organizations are a great place to find critique groups or partners. Check out the forums…there is usually a thread devoted to people looking for crit buddies.

I truly believe no writer should be without at least one critique buddy. A fresh set of eyes is always a good idea :) Happy Critting!


Jennifer said...

Awesome post, and I totally agree about needing at least one critique buddy.

Unknown said...

Yes, I've been blog stalking for a bit, but I felt like this post was for me and I had to write a thank you! I'm very green and have found some great writers as I've gone through the process, but I hate to take advantage of friendships and ask them to critique so I appreciate your advice in this post! Plus, I'm so new that critiques seem completely daunting and being critiqued by a stranger would probably be better if I'm absolutely terrible! (Maybe this is just fear talking) Anyway, thank you!

Michelle McLean said...

Janyece, in my experience, most writers are usually pretty open to doing critiques for each other. It IS daunting at first :) Sometimes it takes a while to develop that thick skin that is necessary in this business. I still get nervous sending my stuff, even to really good friends that I completely love and trust. It can be hard handing over something you've worked so hard on, knowing that it is going to come back completely shredded :D But that is what helps make your manuscript the best, most polished piece of work it can be.

Take a deep breath and get some critiques! :D I should have mentioned this in my post, but RallyStorm (www.rallystorm.com) has some great forums for writers of different genres. I run the romance forum over there. The groups are still fairly small, and they are mostly for discussion, but most of them have places to post some pages and there are some critique groups there that you can ask to join as well.

Good luck! And thanks so much for posting :)

Melissa Sugar said...

This is exactly where I am in my writing process. I really need to find a writers critique group. Thank you for the advice.