Thursday, February 17, 2011
Are Critique Groups Necessary?
Yay! I joined a newly formed YA critique group for my first ever YA novel. I completed the draft last year, did some revising, put it away for a few months, and now I'm going to get some superb feedback from writers who write for that age. (I will work hard to do the same for them)
Another writer I know has belonged to one critique group that met in person and a second one online. She was so disappointed by the critiques in both groups that she has sworn off of them. She doesn't understand why I'm so thrilled.
"They aren't necessary!" she said, proceeding to tell me why it was not a good idea.
Yes, there are writers who have been very successful going it alone. Maybe I would have been, eventually, but I don't think so. I'm not that successful now, but what little success I've had I give to the groups that I belonged to in the past.
I explained to her that I have been blessed by belonging to other groups. These groups were for MG and younger and had a wide variety of skill/experience levels in the membership. Being a newbie can be lonely when looking for a group, so I was grateful to the first group that accepted a newbie like me!
The importance of the things I learned from that first group was immeasureable. The second one was even better! I left both groups when life became too hectic and I couldn't give to them what I felt they deserved.
I told her that having other people give me honest critiques improved my work tremendously and she should try again. Sometimes it is just not a good fit.
"No," she said, shaking her head. "Never again."
The irony in all this? She has sent me a few things for my opinion. I give it. I send her things. We avoid the word critique.
Some writers can go it alone, I can't. I need the pushing, the brutal honesty, the suggestions for improvement, the commiseration, the cheers, and even the constructive disagreements when two writers see a work differently. I need what members in a critique group can offer.
So do I think critique groups are necessary? For me, a definite YES!
What about you?