On The Chain Gang #16 – Critique Groups

My LINK in the Blog Chain

THE BLOG CHAIN is comprised of a group of fiction writers from Query Tracker and Rally Storm. We thought it would be fun and insightful to acquire differing ideas and opinions on a particular writing topic.

So, we work through the chain posting one-by-one with the same general focus, and then, we repeat the process with a new topic for discussion. New Chain Gang member, Annie Louden, has written a fabulous first post before me, and the always wonderful Elana Johnson will be posting after me. If you’d like to read the chain from the beginning, start at Mary’s blog..

All Blog Chain members are listed in the sidebar to the right.
My previous Link in the Blog Chain was on the topic of Stories of the Heart.


This Round’s Topic is:


Are you in a critique group? If so, at what point do you send chapters to the members of your group? How detailed are the critiques you receive and give? Do all members in your group write the same genre?




To Crit Or Not To Crit, That Is The Question…


When I first began writing, the only ones who knew about it were my two children and my niece. Yes, I was a closet writer for quite a long time. I was chapters into the book before I ever ventured into even the most minimal of conversations about it with my sister. But as I started putting those feelers out there for acceptance of the idea of being a writer, I began fumbling my way through the internet in an attempt to glean any and every bit of advice and knowledge I could gain.

Finally, I had a completed novel. I had learned about the querying process and thought I was doing well. I had found Query Tracker and its fabulous forum and met some of the most talented and awesome writers who helped me to realize that my writing needed a little more polishing.

So I hooked up with Joan, a witty and honest critique partner. Her help has been invaluable. Together we have gone through my novel section by section, making it a much stronger project along the way. We have just started work on her novel, and the critiquing game changes for me.

What I have learned throughout this adventure is that as a writer you can be too close to your work. You know the ins and outs of your story, the personality quirks of your characters, so you read into your story things that you may have forgotten to write. A fresh pair of eyes to see when you need to describe the characteristics and abilities of a fictional creature, or need a little more information for motivation of the actions of a character are definitely an advantage.

I was then invited to join an online critique group with an excellent group of writers from mixed genres. It was exciting and nerve racking all at the same time. Once I have run my work past Joan and revised and rewritten, then I pass it along for shredding by my online group. And let me just say that I mean shredding in the very best way…without shredding, honest feedback, your story will not improve and neither will you as a writer. Sometimes it is hard to hear criticism, but I just look at it as suffering for my art and try to fix the offending problems.

Critiques come in many differing shapes and sizes. I have received thorough and in depth critiques, as well as more generalized overviews and all of them have been beneficial. It is what you make of them, how you put them to work that will make the difference. I do believe that you need to be careful with critiques and remain true to the story you have to tell. There is a fine balance that has to be found in keeping your voice, storyline, and characters while enhancing and deepening them. I have come to find that my stories and my writing skill have improved with being involved with critique groups. I have gained as much from having my work critiqued as I have from critiquing others work. Doing critiques has provided me with things to watch out for in my own work.

So in closing, I just want to say thanks to all who have critiqued my work! I appreciate you and love you all.


I would love to hear from you…leave me a COMMENT. hmmm

Stumble It!

~ by bloggingexperiments on April 9, 2009.

8 Responses to “On The Chain Gang #16 – Critique Groups”

  1. I just recently became involved in Query Tracker because I was intrigued by its offerings. I’m still feeling my way around, but it looks like it may be useful.

    Great post!

  2. I love the picture of the puppy with the glasses!

    It’s funny how everyone talks about honest critique as if it has to be brutal. (i.e., shredding.) I believe in being helpfully honest with crits. While you have to tell the other person what doesn’t work, you should phrase it in a professional yet empathetic way that doesn’t trigger her defenses. Otherwise, she won’t be open to your comments.

  3. Oh, you are so right about being too close to your own work! My crit partners will go through things and point out tons of stuff that I forget to mention – like, where did that knife come from?
    Oh, what, you didn’t know it was in his pocket? Oops. 😀
    It is amazing the things that you can forget because it’s already in your head – my crit buddies have been so amazing at catching my goofs 🙂

  4. Your relationship with your crit buddy sounds like the relationships I develop…crit buddies are definitely amazing people to have in your life! Nice post Abi

  5. Abi, great advice. There are always two sides to the critiquing coin. Man, I’ve already penned my post! But that would have been a great thing to say.

  6. Glad to hear you’re not a closeted writer anymore and have found many supportive people. Thank goodness for critique partners. Not only do they help us write better, but they know all about the life and the process.

  7. Cute picture! And I thought this was particularly well said: “It is what you make of them, how you put them to work that will make the difference.”

  8. Great post, Abi. It seems like forever, how have you been?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: