Tuesday, April 3, 2012

A to Z Challenge: C is for Critique Groups

Critique Groups: Don't Stay Married to Your Words

by Donna McDine

My writing career in 2006 when I embarked on the Institute of Children’s Literature (ICL) Writing for Children and Teenagers course. My instructor was the first to critique my manuscripts and with her encouragement I submitted two short stories and one non-fiction article. All three met with rejection.

Frustrated, but knowing rejection is inevitable; I visited the ICL and Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI) discussion boards. All the posts I read about critique groups strongly recommended that a writer get involved with at least one critique group. My networking on the boards proved to be quite beneficial. Several contacts directed me to critique groups that had openings. I immediately contacted several of them and ultimately joined three different groups. All three are conducted on-line and each person brings something different to the forum. For some writers’ face-to-face critique groups work better, but in my personal experience with the time constraints of work and family I find an on-line group works to my benefit. To have a fresh set of eyes and perspective on a manuscript brings out what is and isn’t working. Input from others is important, since writers’ at times feel married to their words and may be reluctant to change something. 

One of my non-fiction articles that met rejection several times took a completely different approach when one of the members of the critique group suggested to change the format and to reorganize the information. I took the opinion and input of my fellow member and edited and resubmitted my article to a different magazine. And to my delight the article was accepted for publication. I truly feel that if I did not change the article as suggested I’d still be seeking acceptance of this particular article. Yippee! :}  

The critique of each member’s manuscript not only benefits the person that submits, but the person that critiques. A wealth of information is exchanged and helps all involved in developing a stronger writing voice. It is a true give and take opportunity to learn and grow as a writer…resulting in a camaraderie that develops over time.  

Go ahead, what are you waiting for, put yourself out there. You never know, the critique of your next manuscript may very well lead to an acceptance.

Not sure where to turn for critique groups, check out the Working Writer's Club www.workingwritersclub.com and learn what their membership has to offer.

Visit with A to Z Challenge bloggers - http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/
Thanks for visiting,

Best wishes,
Donna M. McDine
Award-winning Children's Author
The Golden Pathway ~ August 2010 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc.
http://guardianangelpublishing.com/pathway.htm ~ Literary Classics Silver Award and Seal of Approval Recipient and Dan Poynter's Global e-Book Awards Finalist


  1. I've never been part of a critique group. I know they've been very helpful to some writers, not so much to others.

    Nice to meet you, and welcome to the Challenge!

    A to Z Challenge Host

  2. Hi Karen:

    Thanks for visiting. Lovely to meet you through the challenge! I've found some critique groups to be helpful while others I had to drop from. It really is up to personal preference.

    All the best,

  3. Hi Donna. Enjoyed your post on critique groups. I know I need to get back to finding one that I will be comfortable with. I joined one, but didn't feel it was my fit, so didn't pursue it.


  4. In my area of writing we have "Playtests" which amount to the same thing. Nothing is quite so demoralizing as seeing your carefully crafted ideas ripped to shreds in minutes.
    Thankfully, in my case, the ideas they ripped up were in fact, bad ones. I came up with something better and the book was all the better for it.

    Looking forward to seeing what you do all month!

    The Other Side
    The Freedom of Nonbelief

  5. Susanne and Timothy:

    Thanks for visiting. Yes, Susanne if the group doesn't feel right there is no sense of belonging.

    Timothy, glad you continued to write something you were happier with.

    Best regards,

  6. I need to find a group for myself. Maybe someday.

  7. crit groups or partners are essential!
    and you made me thnk that every job needs a crit partner to help them/us improve =)


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