How To Set Up A Successful Writers Critique Group

By on February 8, 2017
How To Set Up A Successful Writers Critique Group - Writer'

Joining a writing critique group can be a great way of sharing your writing, receiving valuable feedback, exploring your ideas and meeting like-minded, supportive, creative people who can help improve your writing and build your confidence.

Of course, all of the above is true, provided that you make sure your writing critique group works well! Therefore, if you are thinking of setting up a writing critique group, follow these great tips to ensure that it is a success!

Read beforehand

If you are meeting up as a group, or even virtually to discuss each other's work, it’s better to make the most of your time together by doing the reading beforehand. Sometimes it 's hard to think of insightful and helpful things to say when put on the spot so making sure everyone has done their homework will bring so much more value to the conversation.

Invite a range of people

Don’t just invite people who you think will tell you what you want to hear, or who all have the same tastes and likes and dislikes. Having a variety of people in your group will be more reflective of the range of readers you will eventually try and market your book to, so it’s good to get different opinions now - you don’t have to follow them all, but listening is helpful.

Keep the setting informal

Writing critique groups should be fun so keep the setting friendly and comfortable and make sure every member feels at home. If you are meeting at someone’s house make sure there is tea and coffee available and bring snacks too!

Set guidelines

While keeping it casual is a good idea, setting some guidelines will benefit everyone. Make sure each member knows roughly how long their piece of writing should be. It’s not fair to expect everyone to critique one page from some members and then 5,000-word chapters from others. Let everyone know the format, what to expect and how long the group will last.

Take it in turns

Make sure everyone gets a turn, not only for others to explore and discuss their work, but also to speak and share their opinions too. If you feel like someone is dominating, try to encourage others to speak up or politely ask them if they could let other people have a turn.

Be honest but tactful.  Ask questions and encourage explanation

Constructive criticism is always best. There is no point in having a group that isn’t honest with one another. At the same time, remind everyone that you are all writers, and should all be respectful of one another’s opinions and work. If someone has something critical to say they should be able to explain their reasons for saying it. Questions should also be encouraged.

Have some downtime afterwards

Make sure that you leave some time to have more of a general conversation at the end. This will get people to relax, soothe and smooth over any tensions or upsets, and allow people to bond with one another, so they will feel able to have an even more productive conversation next time round!

Bethany Cadman -author of 'Doctor Vanilla's Sunflowers'

Bethany Cadman -author of 'Doctor Vanilla's Sunflowers'

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