This week I received a question from a writer who is trying to get her manuscript published. She’s received many “bites” on the manuscript, but was feeling discouraged. A publisher recommended she get her manuscript critiqued (good advice for all writers regardless of their past success).
So her question was how to go about finding a critique group.
There are a few ways to go about it. You can visit RWA.org and find a chapter in your area to join. You can also investigate online critique groups including RWA online chapters like PassionateInk.
Any online critique group generally requires you to critique a few manuscripts before you can submit one to be critiqued. This creates a community of people interacting instead of people just trying to get free critiques. Scribophile.com is one online critique group that I’ve heard good things about and I was a member of PassionateInk for a long time, they’re wonderful.
You can also create your own critique group. Do you have a few friends who write? They don’t have to write the same genre as you. They do have to be interested in being part of a productive group of writers who are interested in both providing and receiving productive feedback.
Here’s the thing about critiques…
Not everyone is skilled at it so it’s important to not only provide constructive feedback to other writers but to try to receive critiques of your manuscript from a positive place. My good friend and critique partner Sandra Kerns advises writers to:
Set goals – what do you want to achieve? For example, are you looking for feedback on the characterization, conflict, or editing? Let your critique partner know what you need from them and what your goal is. Some people are more skilled at providing editing and proofing feedback and others are more equipped to provide feedback on craft elements like plot and characterization.
Listen with an open mind – You asked for the feedback, now listen to it without allowing negative emotions to creep in. Your critique partner is doing you a favor and providing what you asked for. Sure, they may not communicate in the best way possible and you may not agree with their feedback but listen to it. Receive it and thank them for their effort.
Take what works for you and let go of the rest – One of the problems with critiques and feedback is that we tend to hang onto the negative feedback. It swims around in our thoughts like a hungry shark gobbling up all of the positive thoughts and feedback that might have been present. Focus on the feedback that makes sense to you and return to your manuscript with a desire to make it the best it can be.
I hear horror stories from people about their experiences with critique groups. Next week, I’ll share how to find the right critique group and the right critique partners for you. It can take some time and patience.