This Fiction Flurry blog was birthed from the labor of a writers critique group in Marysville, Ohio. Our little group has been meeting every other week for a year and a half, sharing successes, rejections, and or writing. In the process, we've developed friendships and sharpened our writing skills, I'd like to think. If you are not part of a critique group, let me explain why you should be.
The act of writing is a solitary endeavor, introspective and thoughtful, until you're finished. What then? If you write for yourself, that's it. You lock it away, perhaps re-reading it yourself from time-to-time. If you're writing for an audience, you had that in mind during the writing process. Who should your first audience be? What's the best way for your manuscript to dip its virginal toe in the publishing pool? You could have your mom read it, but come on. She's going to love it even if it is a steaming heap of dung. Do you want an agent or editor to be the first to read it? Hardly. What about all those errors you missed?
A writing critique group, preferably one that meets in person, provides the perfect coming out party for your manuscript, short story, essay, etc. This group of writers doesn't care if your writing has a few blemishes. Your critique group's very existence is centered on finding those pimples on the otherwise flawless skin of your manuscript. But the group doesn't point and laugh at the huge zit on the nose of your writing. Your group will offer suggestions for ways to get rid of that unsightly flaw, assisting you in making your writing the best that it can be.
But enough with the puss-filled metaphors. It's best that you find a writing critique group that meets in person. Online critique groups are better than nothing at all, but your online partners might not have the sensitivity that your in-person group will have. Just as unintended "tone" can come across in e-mails, the same is true for online critiques of your work. We writers can be a sensitive lot.
A relatively small critique group works well. You want to have enough people to get a variety of perspectives and opinions, but not so many that it's overwhelming. A group of eight to ten people is a nice size, at least in our experience. If you can't find a local writing group, start one. Put up flyers in your library, book store, or church. Post something on an online community website. You'll find that there is interest.
If you live in Central Ohio and are looking for a critique group, let us know. We'd like to add a few people. Do you already have a critique group? What value has it brought to your writing?