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Critique partners writing-groups


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Critique Partners/Writing Groups - Why you should consider sharing your work with a partner or group. What to look for, what to avoid and how to find one, as well as suggestions for group processes are covered.

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Critique partners writing-groups

  1. 1. Critique Partners/Writing Groups Larry K. & Lorna Collins
  2. 2. Is Writing a Hobby or a Business?• It’s a Hobby if – You write only for pleasure – You only want to be appreciated – You never intend to be published• It’s a Business if – Your intent is to be published – You are willing to set writing goals – You are willing to follow through with submission and promotion
  3. 3. Groups offer, at their best,mutual encouragement,amicable competition,stimulating discussion,practice in criticism,and support in difficulty.These are great things,and if you’re able toand want to join a group, do so! Ursula K. Le Guin – Steering the Craft
  4. 4. Why a Critique?• We miss our own mistakes• Constructive criticism• Improve chances of being published• Help with problem areas• Suggestions for improvements / enhancements• Affirmation of your project – If this is your ONLY objective, don’t join a group
  5. 5. Advantages• Honest feedback and evaluation of your work• Suggestions for solving problems• Encouragement• Discipline• Sharing information – Agents, Editors & Publishers – Contests – Reviews – Websites
  6. 6. Potential Disadvantages• Expenditure of time• Receiving harsh criticism• Your ego may suffer• Stolen ideas• “Know-it-all” member• Dominating or needy member
  7. 7. What Do You Expect?• Analysis – Characterization – Plot – Structure• Line editing – Spell checking – Grammar correction – Word choices (repetition, nuance, etc.)• Make sure your group meets your needs
  8. 8. How Should You Respond?• Read or listen objectively to the comments• Clarify your plot intentions or character motivations if appropriate• Analyze each suggestion as objectively as possible• Incorporate only those suggestions which are true to your characters and consistent with your storyline
  9. 9. Can You Critique Effectively?• Can you read a manuscript objectively? – Do you recognize the writer’s voice – Are you tempted to rewrite in your own voice?• What are your strengths and weaknesses? – Are you willing to reveal them to others?• Are you comfortable with all genres, or do you only feel comfortable with certain ones?
  10. 10. • Do you expect your suggestions to be followed? – Will you be angry if they aren’t?• Can you give honest feedback? – Always find something to praise – Don’t be too harsh – Assist the novice writer• Is your plotting skill adequate to offer suggestions?• Does critiquing make you feel superior or powerful?
  11. 11. Format• In person• Email – Sections – Discussion – Whole manuscript• Fax• Newsgroups
  12. 12. Considerations• How many members?• How much time will it take?• When will you meet or communicate? – How often? – For how long?• How much material is expected?• What type of writers?• What is the critique process?• What is the group’s goal?
  13. 13. Group Size• Pair – More individual attention / commitment – More schedule flexibility – Fewer resources / limited input – Hurt feelings – Abandonment• Group – Less individual time – Requires more discipline – Broader range of opinions and suggestions
  14. 14. Limits• Amount of work presented• Length of critique time – Individually – Overall• Genre• Language usage
  15. 15. Schedule• Keep it consistent – Weekly, monthly, bi-weekly, etc. – Same time and place• Limit overall timeframe – Limit individual time• Agree upon when you will meet – Discuss holidays, vacations, etc. – Is most of the group available? – Do most members have material to share?
  16. 16. Moderator – Or Not• Coordinates schedules, location, etc.• Moderator facilitates critique process – Maintains discipline – Maintains timeframe• Can be a writer or not• Allows group to concentrate on the work itself• May or may not host the group
  17. 17. Genres• Genre choices – Fiction / Nonfiction – Historical / Contemporary – Screenplay / Books – Poetry / Prose• Restrict to a specific genre• Include some• Exclude some• Include all
  18. 18. What Might You Critique?• Characters – Goals – Motivations – Conflicts – Characteristics – Arc – Protagonist / antagonist• Mechanics – Grammar, spelling, sentence structure
  19. 19. • Beginning – Hook? Opening event? – Where does it start?• Middle (“muddle in the middle” – Terry Brooks) – Does the story move? – Do the characters change or grow? – Does each scene and chapter have a beginning, middle and end?• Ending – Are all plot lines completed? – Is there a solid ending? – Has the goal been accomplished?
  20. 20. The Rules• THE AUTHOR OWNS THE MATERIAL• Work must be treated with respect• People must be treated with respect – No personal attacks• Opinions are only personal opinions• Make suggestions only• Offer help, but don’t take over
  21. 21. Our Process• We meet weekly – Same time and place• Everyone brings a chapter, but no more than ten pages – Double spaced, 12-point – Enough printed copies for everyone• Someone other than the author reads aloud – Able to hear pacing and rhythm – Identify difficult or awkward word structure
  22. 22. • Comments are written in red on the manuscript – Positive and negative• Comments are shared aloud – Everyone participates• Moderator facilitates – Determines reading order – Monitors time – Can comment• Marked manuscripts are returned to the author• Share fellowship time
  23. 23. How Do I Find A Group• Ask other authors• Join a writing class• Put a note on a blog, website or newsgroup• Create your own• Convey your intention verbally• Be persistent
  24. 24. Why Does Writing Matter? Anne LaMott – Bird By BirdBecause of the spirit, I say.Because of the heart. Writingand reading decrease oursense of isolation. Theydeepen and widen and expandour sense of life; they feed thesoul.