What makes a great critique group meeting? by Warren Bull
Image from Pixabay
I just attended a great meeting of a critique group. I always find our meetings helpful to some extent. But why?
I was glad to see each individual attending because of the quality of the writing and feedback he or she presents. Each person has been in the group long enough to know the rules and informal customs such as limiting the time for reading and discussion so that everyone has the opportunity to read. We show respect for one another as people and writers. Meetings always include humor. I feel relaxed and free to both praise and criticize what is presented. Members appreciate what I say. I try to acknowledge the help I get. I like feedback which zeros in on what could be done better.
It is evident that the quality of everyone‘s writing has improved. I vicariously enjoy the other authors’ successes. I have grown to care about the fictional characters constructed by others writing novels. I ache with them, laugh with them and cheer for them. I enjoy the variety of genres presented for review. Our varied backgrounds allow us to share expertise that as individuals we don’t have.
In this particular meeting we had references to poetry used in feedback about prose. We discussed the vernacular used by characters of medical occupations, use of tight third person point of view versus omnipotent third person, plus the advantages and limitations of first person point of view. We also talked about adapting current English to reflect verbalization of different languages at different periods of history. All of this came naturally from reviewing the work presented.
I believe all the factors came together because none of us felt the need to lecture, to compete, or to show off. None of us felt we needed to defend our work. It takes time to develop the trust required for an excellent critique meeting.
As always, the author chooses what use to make of the feedback offered.
Remember, like Neil Gaiman said, “when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.”