Critique Groups–Where Talent Abounds

So you’ve decided to take that leap and write the romance you’ve always dreamed of writing. Your mother, sister-in-law, husband and best friend all think it’s wonderful–that’s great! But while having them read your story might help with the kinks, your fellow writing peers are the ones who know what editors are going to look for. As it is, Editor X may not even like what you have, just because they did. That is where getting involved with a critique group is so important for a writer . . . on the ‘write’ path.

Being involved with a wonderful critique group (mine meets once a month and enjoys each other’s company) is a blessing when you are serious about your writing career. Critiquing is taking the good with the bad with a touch of diplomacy and a lot of encouragement from others in the same boat as you. Some people prefer not seeing who they are critiquing with at first and building the personal relationships along the way. The internet is wonderful for those writers, where others are comfortable making the leap of faith right off the bat and meeting face to face.

A part of having a great critique group is having someone to run/moderate your group with an eye for regulations, ideals and morals to make everyone comfortable. I am thankful for our ‘group leader’ who is excellent with handling those issues and supporting our group.

Since our start up, we’ve recently had two of our members’ books contracted to be published. There are others in our group who are already published within the romance industry and share in both giving and receiving ideas, comments and encouragement to help others in a positive role and to continue in their endeavors. Even published authors have a need for a readers view–from grammatical errors to character and plot flow.

If you are starting out in your romance writing career or path, check with Romance Writers of America or your local Romance Writers of America chapter to see if they have a critique group. Find a group you feel comfortable with but not so comfortable that they won’t give you constructive criticism now and again when needed.

A couple of things to remember before joining a critique group:

• If you get a critique, you need to give a critique too (even if you’re not sure how–read it from a readers point of view until you can understand and see things within each other’s context–grammar, POV, plot and character development, etc. Not everyone sees the same things in all submissions. That is why many eyes are better than one.).

• Remember the golden rule–treat others with the same respect you would want to be treated. Give your opinions gently, recommend changes with an open mind, but remember it is still ‘their’ work, their brain child.

• Be able to take criticism with an open eye towards others but remember not everyone is going to see the same thing. If you get various points made on one detail from quite a few people in your group–look at it as maybe something that needs a change. But if it’s a random thought from one individual take it with a grain of salt–it may be just one persons opinion but you know where you are going with your story.

• Also, if someone is an expert in a certain area dealing with your book (I’ve been blessed with a partner who is a history major and was able to point out historical situations for me in one of my books) take to heart who may be reading your story, you need realism. Ask them questions to help guide you in the right way. They may even read over your finished story to check for inaccuracies. Just remember to thank them in the long run.

• Encourage, celebrate and communicate! We’re all on the same path. Even those who have been there, done that, and have the contracts–it doesn’t end with one book. Celebrate each other’s big and small accomplishments in their journey–you could be the next winner of a contest or the next one signing a contract with an agent or editor and will want to share the news with everyone.

Tell me about your critique group(s), tips or any questions you may want to share with others. I would love to hear from you.  Hugs!

17 thoughts on “Critique Groups–Where Talent Abounds

  1. Thank you for that wonderful overview on critique groups! Whether it is a person, a group or just between you and your editor having people you can trust to look at your work and give you constructive feedback is invaluable.

    1. Dana,
      Thank you for joining me today! I couldn’t agree more. It’s great to have a cheerleader but in our business we also need the constructive criticism to see us through in the right direction.


  2. Hi Loni, great topic. I knew when I had a non-writer freind of mine read something for me and even she said, “Is there any plot, conflict, resolution in this?” that I needed to do many things, one being find a critique partner/group and fast! I belong to our WRW Critters online critique group. It’s great for people who don’t always have a set time that they can meet up. And I think also for shy people, like me, who would be open to face to face meetings but just not very practiced in that sort of thing! I highly recommend the WRW Critters if anyone is interested or in need.

    1. Good to hear fron you, Carlene! I love WRW Critters! I’ve met some wonderful people through their critique group. Thanks for the recommendation and hope others join in.

      Take care!


  3. Great post and tips, Loni! My mom’s critique of my current W.I.P. was, “you’re brilliant!!!!!” While I quite enjoyed this take, it may be time for me to find some critique partners who don’t think I’m brilliant. (Well, maybe a little brilliant. Or gorgeous, at least.) 😉

    1. Kerri, of course you are gorgeous and brilliant! 🙂
      As I said, we all need those cheerleaders to encourage us on our path no matter what we dream of doing. Though we all have a story aching to be told–and we can tell it, sometimes having someone show us where we can ‘fine tune’ or ‘make it even better’ really helps. There are those of us who have a grasp on the inner workings of writing (grammar, structure, etc.) and then others excel in characterization/plots. Working together we learn so much more in how we can balance the whole writing process.

      My first time sending out my WIP was scary. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I’ve had wonderful enlightenment in the past few years with my critique groups (both on-line and face to face).

      All the best and good luck!

  4. I never had another writer read any of my manuscripts until last year. I didn’t know any of the terms. No clue what a character arc was or why it’s important. What the heck is a POV? Why did all these women have a DH, and how could I get one? Did anyone else have a problem with writing sympathetic characters, and what did it say about me that I didn’t know how to do that? All these questions and learning to decipher the acronyms and language of writers was a bit overwhelming. It made me start to doubt my own writing. How can I be a writer if I can’t even understand the language? Well, God bless my writing friends. When you’re in a smaller group setting, it’s a lot easier to ask the “dumb questions.” And now I understand. Some things, anyway. LOL.

    It’s great to be part of a group who supports you, encourages you, and truly wants the best for you. Writers are an amazing group of people! Hats off to us!!!

    1. Kimberly,
      I know. I was in the military so you would have thought I’d had all the acronyms I could stand. Little did I know POV, WIP, and HEA would greet me and didn’t mean Private Owned Vehicle, Workers In Personnel and anything else that might have to do with my job (there was PMS too but that meant Pre-Maintenance Servicing–not something chocolate could cure) 🙂 .
      With help from my crit groups and friends in writing I became more fluent in the new language. My first contest responses though confused the heck out of me–What’s HH and POV? (Head Hopping and Point of View).
      I’ve started looking at writing as a career where learning the ins and outs, just like you would starting a regular 9-5 job would require.

      Finding friends who are supportive enough to guide you through, especially in such a tough field, is a true blessing. I have yet to meet anyone in our business who isn’t supportive and encouraging. We’ve all been there at one point or another and are willing to share in our struggles–I think it was passed down from others. 🙂

      The best of luck to you!

  5. I totally lucked into my great critique partners and am thankful every day. That said all of mine are online and I’m on the hunt for someone local. Wish me more luck. 🙂

    1. Avery,
      Little blessings along the way. We never know when fate puts those people out there to help us. Hope you find that perfect writing partner. They are out there.

      Luck! 🙂

  6. Loni,
    This is a great reminder how important it is to have writer friends. I wrote my last novel “by myself” (at least the first few drafts), and I am taking a different approach with my current one. Already, I am feeling the difference!

    1. P.H.
      Thanks for the comment. I’m glad this was a postive reminder. So many times just having someone with similar interests take a look from both sides of the spectrum (writer and reader) gives us a new outlook that we don’t see with our own eyes.

      It does make all the difference to have those friends out there. Keep writing, my friend! 🙂

  7. To all my Sisters out there–
    Thanks for all the great comments today and for sharing your thoughts about my blog. What a wonderful bunch of talent! Thank you for the enjoyable day.

    Hugs and best wishes! B)

    Loni Lynne

  8. Loni – I don’t have a critique group but I have a critique partner and she is invaluable. Not only is she an honest voice about my work she’s someone who “gets it” – she celebrates with me, inspires me, and give me a kick in the ass when I need it.

    1. Robin,
      My first journey into critiques were with a critique partner. She is still a very good friend of mine. I think anyone, group or otherwise, who shares an interest in reading the same genre, can look at our work with a critical eye (and yes, still be our cheerleader) and be honest about what we are writing makes for a wonderful ‘critter’. I understand the ‘kick in the ass’ too–needed on occasions to motivate us.

      Let’s hear it for our critique partners out there! Woot!

      Loni Lynne

  9. Catching up with my mermaid reading on the holiday and you make excellent points here and share really good tips on critique groups. I work with more than one critique group, mostly online, but my critique partner – we work somewhat differently. We both edit copy in our other jobs and tend to do more editing of our own copy than we should. So we meet once a month to work through story issues, brainstorm on world building, character arc, plotting, research, etc. Combined with the classic critique group approach – this works well for me.

    1. Thanks for still blogging, Denny!
      I am involved with both an on-line and a group of us (12) who meet once a month and critique each other. It’s great to have various writers with unique backgrounds who can input their expertise in their field. We take turns doing 4 critiques a month and rotate. Belonging to an on-line group helps too because the timing goes faster. As noted earlier, I met one of my critique buddies through an on-line group and we met once a month for a couple of years to do the brainstorming, character building, etc. you talk of–it’s great!

      There are so many options out there for finding a critique group/partner–it’s just finding something that works for you.

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