The Guppies are a constant source of help and support. I’ve made use of online critique groups and the opportunity to swap manuscripts. However and possibly because I wasn’t born into the digital age with a cell phone attached to my head like a third ear, I learn more from in-person critique groups. There’s no substitute for facial expressions, tone of voice, and body language. They make it so much easier to judge the most relevant criticism for my work and the general interest level in what I’ve written.
Here I’ll put in a plug for Seascape Writers Retreat that I attended this past weekend. I learned more in three days than I’d learn in a year of online feedback. It’s not the messenger but the medium. Some writers brought first drafts and they felt the feedback they received helped them deepen their characters and plot. Other first drafters changed their protagonists and villains. I think it makes sense to have feedback from the start unless you don’t mind stumbling in the dark for years or you produce almost perfect drafts the first time. Even writers who presented stories they’d been working on for months or years felt they learned from all the feedback they received.