February 2014: Be Fearless-Form A Critique Groups

      Every writer is in love with his or her ideas, but forming or joining a critique group gives dimension to a writer's work. It also pulls the writer out of solitary mode.
      Analyzing and assessing another writer's work is a privilege. Another creative individual entrusts you to read their work and give them feedback. The information you the writer is dependant on the parameters of the critique group. "Parameters" is the key word.
      Before you enter a critique group, read a document, consent to proofreading a paper or editing a manuscript, you need to draw up boundaries and limits to your review with your group or an individual. This step is important because it creates conversation between the writers who are in this group." This discussion defines the object of the author's writing and clarifies the type of critique being entrusted to you.
      A successful critique group depends on a set of rules established by its members. This is a difficult hurdle. The objectives, schedule, and size of group needs to be established.
  • Step 1 - Introductions: Ask each potential member to not only to state their name. Ask each participant what is their work in progress (WIP).
  • Step 2 - Objective: Ask each attendee what they see as the end product or result of an authors' critique group.
  • Step 3 - Schedule: Establish whether members want to meet weekly, bi-weekly, monthly.  What time of the day? Where to meet?  Will there be food?
  • Step 4 - Size: The commitment, contributions, and the quality of critiques have a correlation to the size of the group. Potential members need to know that they need to show up and be prepared to participate.
  • Step 5  - Processes: How many pages to read and review by each member? Will members submit prior to the meeting in a community drop box or cloud? This interaction also evaluates the groups technology levels. 
  • Step 6 - Legal Form: This is a tricky subject. Some critique groups (particularly online groups) ask participants to sign forms stating they will not plagiarize any one's work.  It may seem harsh, but it depends on who is in your group. It is wise to know your candidates prior to the first meeting.
  • Step 6 - Critique Group Leader: Is it organic? Does the person who calls the first meeting becomes the leader or does the position rotate?
      Yes, it is an agenda. It doesn't have to be your agenda. The first meeting has to set a tone of professionalism, after that your group will take on its own life and personality.
       Be fearless, find like minded writers. CAUTION: Your group may not look like you. Members may not write the same genre as you, but don't think you failed. It is in the diversity of the group that richness blooms and ideas abound.

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