Some writers hate them and others swear by them. I’m in the latter group. I was first introduced to critique groups back when I was writing my first book that was published, Two Ways West. I couldn’t find a critique group where I lived, but my sister found one and took my manuscript chapter by chapter. Because I wasn’t there, they were merciless. But I was glad they were. Author Francine Rivers was a part of that group.
I didn’t have a clue what point-of-view meant and when they told my sister I had point-of-view problems I told her I only knew what it meant to have a point-of-view. They managed to get across to her and then to me about POV.
When we moved to where we live now, I discovered a notice in the paper for a writers’ critique group and I could hardly wait. I’ve belonged to that group ever since. It changed over time, as well as the people who attend. In the beginning, there were so many people we didn’t always get to read. But if you missed, then you were first the next time.
From time to time, the group grew smaller, always to those most committed to making their writing better. For a long while, we had a wonderful leader named Willma Gore. She taught me so much about every aspect of writing. She eventually left us too, and moved on. Now she’s busy teaching writing in Sedona AZ and still selling articles. Over 80, she just returned from what she says is her last book tour–but I don’t believe it.
Now, our group consists of the very woman who actually started the group before I was a part of it, a young school teacher writing children’s books, a retired rancher who is also writing a children’s book, and various others who show up from time to time.
I feel it’s imperative to run my book by the group. It’s amazing what suggestions they each come up with. I don’t always agree, but they make me think and make some kind of change. Once I’ve read the whole book through, since I’m two books ahead, I can take the time to do this, I’ll send it off to my good friend, Willma, for a final edit.
After that I’ll go through it one last time and send it off to my publishers–and you can be sure the editor there will also find things to change. By that time, unless it destroys the plot or is illogical, I don’t argue. I’m ready to move onto my next project.
For me, having a critique group to run my novels by has been invaluable.