Wednesday, May 19, 2010

What's your take?

What is your opinion on critique groups? I love mine, but do they help or hinder? I've heard both sides from many people.

I've recently submitted a new story I'm in the process of writing to my group. I can't decide if that was a good idea. I've heard many times to write the whole story. Get it all on paper before anyone sees it. Of course it will probably need TONS of revisions and work, but at least you got it all down. THEN show it to people.

What, if any, are the benefits of showing work that is still in the process of being written? Well, one thing is that your critique group will find places you need to clarify early on and things you can do to make your story better right from the start.

On the other hand, will their suggestions change your whole story line? There's a gal in my group who, since she's started coming has totally blossomed. Her writing and her critiquing is fantastic now. I'm amazed how much she's grown in such a short time, but her story, which started out with a certain tone and story line is totally different now. She has gone back over and over revising before she can even get to the ending. It is going to be amazing but would it have been better to write it all out first? I'm not sure.

Is she being true to her story idea by showing it to us so early on? Honestly, I can't decide. There's good and bad to both ways. What's your opinion? Some authors don't use critique groups at all, but I know my writing is way better because I do.

The book I sold to WiDo Publishing was never seen by my critique group. I wrote it before I joined a group and I only had a few people even read it. It was in raw form, but WiDo could see it's potential. In some ways, I'm glad it wasn't reviewed tons of times. Maybe it wouldn't be the same story if it had been. We'll never know.


RaShelle said...

As far as being true to her story -I'd say she is, it's just evolving. That being said, remember we all have our own journey as well. And, as writers, we're constantly second guessing ourselves. I'm second guessing what I'm writing now. LOL. We just have to believe in ourselves and go for it. Right?

M. Gray said...

I completely see both sides of this. At Bootcamp my peers and I would suggest something, and David Farland would totally nix it. It's scary to think we can give bad advice!

But more eyes are good cuz I'd never catch things otherwise. I'm just learning to weigh critiques before I apply them.

Tamara Hart Heiner said...

I'm one of those people who writes the first draft as fast as I can. I don't look back. I don't reread any of it.There's no way I'd show it to anyone.

After the first draft, I read it through and revise. My second draft is then what I show to critique groups. I like knowing I wrote the whole story first; and then it's jsut improvements.

Theresa Milstein said...

I like dealing with one reader at a time better, but need to have a few people look at my manuscript to know for sure what's working and what isn't. But critique groups take a lot of time. I'm still on the fence.

Old Kitty said...

I'm so glad to read about this woman in your group flourishing with her writing. I'd say the group is working for her!
I think critique groups work for some more so than others. I'm sure one's writing would benefit as a whole but maybe for some it'll be a lot, for others, not so much. I guess it depends on the individual and how receptive they are to such groups.

Take care

MeganRebekah said...

I belong to two different groups. One is my writing group that I've been with for over a year. I love these girls. We email almost everyday, about personal things, have met in person. We're more than a writing group, we're friends. I send them chapters that are incomplete, or that get erased later. They don't mind, and they do the same to me.

My other group is a bit more recent and just taking off. It's still more formal. I would never send them unfinished work, because I don't know them well enough to ask them to look at something that I may delete next week.

No matter, I personally think critique groups (or just partners) are fabulous and an indispensable part of my writing.

Kathi Oram Peterson said...

I'm in a writers group. Have been for years. For me it works better to write the complete rough of my story before I start reading at group. That way if something doesn't work, I can ask them how I can fix it to get the story where I need it to go. It works for me. :)

Heather Justesen said...

I love my critique group and wouldn't give them up for anything. I prefer to have a complete draft finished before I bring it to my group, but that hasn't always been the case. My group, however, doesn't try and feed me different plot lines (unless I'm asking), or take me places I don't want to go, they take it a chapter at a time and make suggestions for clarification. It works great for me, and having my group around me each week not only has improved my writing dramatically, but gives me somewhere to discuss writing things with people who get me and can see my vision for my stories--and show me where my vision isn't working.

elizabeth mueller said...

Hi Melissa, I can totally understand where you're coming from. You are totally correct on both accounts. I feel, in order to preserve your true self, finish the book prayerfully, send it off to alphareaders (so they can tell you about flow and share thought--not necessarily a crit, here). When you get it back, tweak it, edit it and then pass it around to the group. I feel that in this way, you preserve the integrity of your baby as much as you can. That's just me and how I function.

Btw, you have an award!

Kimberly Job said...

I love my critique group. However, you blog made me think about something I never have before. Most of us bring stuff as we write and I know that we influence the direction each others books go. Interesting topic.

Annette Lyon said...

The first book I brought to my group was fully written when I took chapter 1. But now that I'm writing and publishing regularly, that's not a luxury I have anymore--they see it as I write it. But then a couple of members read the whole thing at once to see the full arc before I turn it in.

Are critique groups worth it? Well, let's see--mine began with a bunch of aspiring writers. I'd spent years submitting to the big publishers I wanted to get in with, but kept getting (very nice) rejections.

10 1/2 years later, every one of us is published several times over, with most of us having won several awards.

I'd say it's worth it! The day I think I'm too good a writer for getting critiqued is the day my work takes a nose dive.

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