My Take on Critique Groups by Linda Katmarian

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Linda will be awarding a $25 Amazon gift card to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.


My Take on Critique Groups
by Linda Katmarian

Critique groups are an important component of every writer’s development. It is how you learn about yourself as a writer and how you learn to evaluate your craft. That said, there are some important things to understand about critique groups and how you relate to them.

Basically there are two types of groups: the kind that praises everything you do and provides little constructive criticism and the kind that rips you up and leaves you bleeding on the floor. I have experienced both of these types. The question then becomes how to benefit from a critique group.

Most important of all, check your ego at the door. Critique groups are for learning. You take what your fellow writers are willing to offer and use what you can. It’s not about you; it’s about the writing. There are some who have good critique skills and who can offer sound, honest advice. There are others who mean well, but lack the skills or who are unwilling to offer any useful critique. And finally, there are those who think critiquing is a blood sport. They enjoy savaging the work of others, but rarely offer any useful advice.

As a writer, I am most distrustful of groups that are too gentile and timid to give you some of the hard truth that you need to hear. If you fall into this type of group you will be tempted to succumb to all the flattery and you will feel no pressure to improve.

Then there is the other extreme. I can take being pommelled by fellow writers if they have something insightful to offer. If not, I just shrug them off. Unfortunately, many writers cannot withstand critiquing that is a trial by fire. These kinds of groups crush the spirit of too many writers, who eventually give up and go away.

The moral of the story is to develop a thick skin and an open mind and to learn to trust your own instincts about what others have to say about your writing.

I offer up this little poem of mine that I wrote after surviving one of the bloodier types of critique groups:

Writer
Writer, when first I tapped you on the shoulder,
did you think I promised success and fame? Glory be to you forever?
Better to draw up a business plan, study for another career.
And you did.
You studied editing and theory,
dedicated much paper to these easy gods and their prophets,
planned for your coronation.
Tell a story and tell the truth, I whispered in your ear.
I will have no other gods before me.
You became a fearful priest who coveted your scrolls.
I am not the god that accepts tithes or grants dispensations.
Only flesh and blood will do. I make no promises.

Writer, if you carry your cross the distance and
you are still conscious when they nail you to it,
maybe they will crown you King of Words.

About the Author:7_15 AuthorPicAuthor Linda Katmarian grew up in the Midwest and graduated with a Master’s Degree in French literature from Illinois State University. She has studied under Sol Stein, prolific author and former owner of Stein & Day publishing company in New York, and Louella Nelson, an experienced romance writer and teacher of fiction writing. In 2012, after a long career as a technical writer, Linda committed herself to writing fiction full time. She lives in Southern California. DREAMING OF LAUGHING HAWK is her debut novel.
Author page: http://amazon.com/author/lindakatmarian
Website: http://www.lindakatmarian.com
Blog: http://www.scheherazade-thewritinglife.blogspot.com/

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/LindaKatmarian

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/authorlindakatmarian

7_15 Cover_DreamingOfLaughingHawkIn 1964 Elizabeth Leigh is looking forward to college, escape from her unhappy home, and the fulfillment of her dreams. Adventure. Love. Her place in the sun. On a restless afternoon, she leaves school early and discovers her mother is packing to run off with a lover, abandoning Elizabeth and her stepfather. Worse, she learns her mother has squandered the college money her grandfather left her.
A fortuitous invitation from her cousin Melina to come to Los Angeles rescues her from an uncertain future. In Los Angeles, Elizabeth finds security in the embrace of her aunt’s family and is introduced to the man who soon becomes her fiancé, Collin Greenslade, an ambitious, up-and-coming real estate developer. Life could not be more perfect.
When her cousin’s boyfriend, a civil rights activist, has his Thunderbird vandalized in Mississippi, he enlists his roommate, Mark Laughing Hawk, to tow his car back home. Melina insists that she and Elizabeth should come along for the ride, but what starts as a fun romp across the country becomes a journey of the soul that complicates love and endangers lives.
Dreaming of Laughing Hawk explores the desire for love, power, and sense of purpose and the lengths we will go to attain them.

Buy the ebook or print book.

Comments

  1. Mary Preston says:

    At had to laugh at the “blood sport” comment. Very interesting thank you.

    marypres(AT)gmail(DOT)com

  2. I’ve been extremely lucky to have been part of Romance Divas forum and they have some of the best critiquing authors around. I think there has to be a balance.
    Love this post.

  3. Thank you for hosting

  4. Karen H in NC says:

    Well, I’m overly sensitive to criticism, so I would probably not make in in the author world! However much it made me laugh, I don’t think I could stand the blood sport thing! But I did enjoy reading about the various types of groups and I have to agree….don’t trust the group that doesn’t have anything bad to say about your work. Too many authors have either not gotten good, constructive advice or don’t belong to a group because they self-publish and they don’t know when their work stinks! Everyone needs checks and balances, in all types of work.

    kareninnc at gmail dot com

  5. Great post, thank you.

    Kit3247(at)aol(dot)com

  6. Thanks for having the blog hop. I get introduced to a lot of authors i have never read.

  7. Interesting post

    bn100candg at hotmail dot com

  8. Thanks for sharing the poem, critiques can be rough

  9. Thanks for hosting me. I have enjoyed your readers’ responses to critiquing. Whether a writer or not, we all have to deal with being critiqued for something. The best reaction is to take what advice you can use and ignore what is off the mark. And, of course, learn to rely on your instincts.

  10. I’m not an author, nor am I a member of a critique group. I am, however, a librarian, reader, English major, and manuscript reviewer for a professional journal. When I review articles (or manuscripts…because writers ask me to), I make an effort to be somewhere in between. I find something nice to say–because there is always something nice that can be said about a piece–but I give my honest assessment, too. I think it’s taken me years to try to get that feedback balance. It can be tough for the critiquers as well as the critiquees!
    catherinelee100 at gmail dot com

    • Yes, critiquing is a learned skill. And most of us, including writers, are not particularly good at it. I suppose more critique groups should make more of an effort to instruct their members on the guidelines for a good and fair critique.

  11. thanks for the chance,never heard of this author before,definitely gonna check about her!
    cookiesmasher5@yahoo.com

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