Dramaquill's All Things Writing

August 9, 2010

How to get the most from a critique group

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I’ve belonged to several critique groups over the past ten years.  Each one operated in a slightly different way but basically offered the same thing:  a forum for posting my writing and receiving feedback.

How can one get the most from a critique group?  Here are some things I’ve learned from my participation over the years:

  1. Decide what you need from a group and what you have to offer in return.
  2. Make sure that the group has writers of a compatible level, ie, if you are an intermediate writer, and seriously working on publishing a book, don’t join a group for beginning novelists.
  3. Develop a rapport with the members – get to know them as people.
  4. Be open to criticism.  After all, that’s why you joined. 
  5. Don’t get defensive.  Critiquing is subjective.  If you don’t agree with something someone else has said, then pass it by.
  6. Respect the opinion of all members as just that – their opinion.
  7. Realize that you don’t have to implement every suggestion.  Only use what you feel makes your writing/manuscript better.
  8. Be honest but not mean.
  9. Learn to disagree and move on.
  10. Accept that some groups may end up not meeting your needs.  It’s okay to leave and find another group.

In all my groups I have seen success come to a variety of members in everything from being published in magazines to book deals. 

But most of all, I’ve enjoyed the journey of meeting writers from all walks of life and in various stages of their careers. 

Whether you meet in person, or online, I believe belonging to a good critique group is invaluable for any writer.



  1. Great Top Ten list, Jacqueline. The hardest thing about giving (or getting) a critique is hurt-feelings responses. You are so right that it’s just one person’s opinion. Now IF that one person was your editor who said “change this, or good luck in finding another house,” then I would say, go with the wise, experienced editor who wants to sell your story to zillions of others. (But then, I suppose we really can’t put editors in the same category as common critique partners. Aren’t they held up on in-the-clouds pedestals?)

    Comment by Sandy Carlson — August 9, 2010 @ 1:45 PM | Reply

  2. AGreed – editors and their critiques pull a different weight than fellow critters.

    As for fellow critters, if you’re willing to say it, then you have to realize that someone may not agree with you.

    Blogging can be a great outlet for venting LOL

    Comment by dramaquill — August 10, 2010 @ 1:30 PM | Reply

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