Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Insecure Writers Support Group Blog Hop: Love and Hate for My Critique Group

Hello and welcome to  the IWSG blog hop. 

What is IWSG? Founder of the  Insecure Writer’s Support Group and author Alex J Cavanaugh explains the group's purpose is "to share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!" You're invited to become a member of this supportive group.
The group blogs the first Wednesday of every month.  The list of bloggers is always available so you can hop around to the author blogs filled with humor, advice, and thought-provoking topics on writing and publishing. You can find the list of participants at Alex's IWSG page
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Love and Hate for My Critique Group by J.Q. Rose

When I re-read the title of this post, I thought it really sounded harsh. Let me explain. I don't hate my critique partners. In fact I love them for all their encouragement and support for my writing projects. I would not be a published author without them.

We meet every week in the summer at a local coffee shop. We spread out on the biggest table we can find because there are four of us, eat sweets, and try the different coffees and beverages. Not only do we share our submissions, but also family news, work news, etc. And sprinkled throughout the meeting, are a lot of laughs and just pure joy. 

One of our members was having trouble with stress headaches a couple of weeks ago. She reported to us that after the meeting her headache was gone! 

Brainstorming is an essential part of the critique group's meeting.
Photo courtesy of by Stuart Miles
One of the highlights of our meetings is the brainstorming. I love when we throw around ideas to help solve problems in our manuscripts,  develop a character, decide how to kill off the villain, and more. I sometimes check the room to see if any patrons are eavesdropping when we talk about guns, poisons, ways to murder characters!! I hope they realize we are only using our imaginations!

I also love my crit group for offering feedback in my story such as 
  • The mc begins eating her burrito, but never ordered it from anyone.
  • A joke or a scene doesn't work
  • The character's name is Brian in previous chapters and Herb in the present submission. Of course, I have to laugh when they look up with questioning eyes--Who's Herb? (Last week I had missed a few chapters of one gal's story and was reading about Hank. I decided not to ask "who's Hank," so I kept reading. When I read "Hank trotted off with a saddle pack on his back," I laughed out loud. He was a horse, not a man!)
  • The same information is repeated several times. Once is enough.
  • The action is going too fast.
  • The scene needs the mc's internal thoughts
I'm sure you've had similar experiences. And I bet you appreciate the constructive criticism as much as I do.

So what do I hate about a crit group?  For instance, I submitted a chapter where the bad guy and his sister had to go to police headquarters. I had them together in the same room to give their statements. The give and take in the conversation was good, and the body language was fine. However, they informed me, this is not correct police procedure. The police would never allow them to be together to give a statement. Aaarghhhh. That's what I hate--I had to re-write the entire scene. 

So I put on my big girl panties, thanked them for finding this flaw, and re-wrote the chapter in a different setting. To tell the truth, it turned out to be much improved over the first attempt.

Not only can a crit group help you in writing your story, push you to complete it, and submit it to a publisher, but the group can market their books together too. We have made presentations to local groups and shared opportunities to promote our books at different venues. 

In this big world of publishing, it's good to know you have friends who will help you through the roller coaster ride of success and insecurity. Everyone needs someone to be a supporter to applaud your victories and be there for your rejections.

 The IWSG writers certainly fit this need for all of us who work alone. We come together to help fellow writers with their insecurities and do a happy dance when one of us celebrates a milestone in their writing career.

Do you belong to a critique group or have a critique partner? What has been your experience? Please leave a comment below.

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emaginette said...

I'm okay with all feedback because I want to write the best story ever. And I'd rather be embarrassed by my CP then by a review. At least I can fix it after the crit. :-)

Here's my link if you'd like to drop by :-)

Anna from Elements of Writing

J.Q. Rose said...

Hi Anna, Yes, indeed. I experienced a review where the reviewer discovered a flaw in police procedure, so I am on it with this next story. I want to know before publishing.

Thanks for stopping in.

Melissa said...

I have some CPs (online, via email), but I mostly use them for beta reads now, since I've conquered most of the line-by-line and writing-tightening stuff.

I had to laugh at the character name mistake you mentioned. I found it, not once, but three times in my current WIP. I'm just thankful I found it BEFORE the MS went out to my betas. LOL

IWSG #126 until Alex culls the list again.

J.Q. Rose said...

Hi Melissa, I don't think we'll ever be able to put out a perfect ms. Even if I read it over and over and over and over, I still will find something! Thanks for stopping in.

Rachna Chhabria said...

Lucky you, that you can meet your crit partners. Mine stay in a different continent.

Rachna Chhabria
Co-host IWSG
Rachna's Scriptorium

Anonymous said...

That sounds like a great group,JQ, and what a good idea to meet up in a coffee shop! I have a love/hate relationship with my writers' group, too. I was very proud of the beginning of my latest book, until they pointed out that there was too much backstory and I needed to start with the action. It was deflating at first, but they were quite right! Better to have it pointed out now when I can change it, than rejected by a publisher. Critique groups are a great help, and yours sounds a lot of fun too!

Anonymous said...

I love my crit partners, but yeah, sometimes I dread getting notes from them. There's this moment where I feel like my work is perfect and I know it's not and they will point it out. I guess I like basking in that moment for a second before letting reality hit.

~Patricia Lynne aka Patricia Josephine~
Story Dam
Patricia Lynne, Indie Author

Marsha said...

Great post, JQ. You hit on the goods and bads of a critique group. I save a lot of paper since I don't meet with a group like I did the firs couple of years I was writing, but I miss the camaraderie that it sounds like you have. I so get it though. I'd think I had this great scene going and they poked holes.--well they pointed out the holes. LOL As you say better from them than from an editor or worse--a reader.

J.Q. Rose said...

@Rachna--This technology is amazing isn't it? You can interact with people so far away.

Helena--Yes, those crit groups have such a different perspective on the story. So good to have fresh eyes on everything.

@Patricia Lynne-I'm afraid crit groups do have a way of grounding us in reality. LOL

@ Marsha--Sometmes we can't see our own work right in front of our faces...

Thanks everyone for your somments. Now I'm off to the campground where I hope to get a minute (or hours!) to make changes suggested by my CP/s to my WIP.

Tess Grant said...

Love our group, JQ. I always know where to go to get the answers. :)

J.Q. Rose said...

Hi Tess, we do have a lot of questions to ask, don't we? Thanks for stopping in!

Happy Independence Day to My IWSG Friends and Readers!!! #IWSGBlogHop, #fourthofjuly

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