Thoughts on Critique Groups by Krysten Lindsay Hager – Guest Blog

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Thoughts on Critique Groups

I was asked to talk about my take on critique groups and I have been in many different groups. One thing I have noticed is if you’re in a critique group that you often find yourself tailoring your work to the liking of the group. I first noticed this in college where my creative writing classes had us switch up our groups during the semesters. I noticed if I was in a group that appreciated humor that I tended to focus more on that and, if I ended up in a group that was more into drama, then my work reflected that as well.

I was in another group for a year with a lot of sci-fi and fantasy authors who were very focused on going through motions in scenes to make sure everything was believable. While this is important (and has set me on a path of going to my book settings to walk the paths my characters walk), it also wasn’t something I needed to do as in depth as a contemporary YA writer who writes romances. Although for their scenes it was crucial to act out the scenes, for my work it didn’t seem to be as necessary.

In another critique group I found some of the men were questioning a female character’s reasons for a breakup. This led me to rework a scene to explain why she broke up with the character seeing as all the males in my group felt for the guy she broke up with. While it was important for me to show more of the reason for the breakup, later I heard from editors that it delayed the story and wasn’t necessary. That made me realize I had rewritten the story to please those members, but in reality, it dragged the story down.

The main thing I learned from critique groups is to always listen to all the feedback, but to take a few days to mull over the comments to see if this is something you needed to consider. Sometimes the advice might be just what you needed or at least something to consider. But I’ve also learned the importance of writing for my intended audience and not just the critique group members. It’s important to keep the integrity of the story no matter.

Cecily has always had a huge crush on singer Andrew Holiday and she wants to be an actress, so she tags along when her friend auditions for his new video. However, the director isn’t looking for an actress, but rather the girl next door—and so is Andrew. Cecily gets a part in the video and all of Andrew’s attention on the set. Her friend begins to see red and Cecily’s boyfriend is seeing green—as in major jealousy. A misunderstanding leaves Cecily and her boyfriend on the outs and Andrew hopes to pick up the pieces as he’s looking for someone more stable in his life than the models he’s dated. Soon Cecily begins to realize Andrew understands her more than her small-town boyfriend—but can her perfect love match really be her favorite rock star?

Enjoy an Excerpt

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In all his magazine interviews Andrew always said looks weren’t important to him, and what he noticed in a girl was if she was true to herself. He said he went for “bright girls who were sweet and easy to be with.” Now that I thought about it, that was the kind of fake crap magazines put out about all the teen celebrities. It was like when I saw Lawrence Claibourne, my favorite actor who claimed to be Mr. I’m-just-looking-for-a-sweetgirl-to-read-poetry-to on a red carpet with a model whose boobs were falling out of her dress and had overdone the lip fillers—I mean, you just knew he wasn’t into her for her personality. But Andrew wasn’t like Lawrence. Andrew seemed so sincere and deep. Lawrence had a smirk and you could tell he was a player, but Andrew seemed like he had been hurt and needed to find the right girl who he could open up to and learn to trust again. . .or at least that’s what he said in his last interview.

The final bell rang and my heart shot up to my throat. This was it. I was on my way to meet my crush. From now on, any dreams of him would be marred by the reality I was about to face.

Was it better to keep wondering what if and keep the fantasy alive or to go and actually meet him?

About the Author: Krysten Lindsay Hager writes about friendship, self-esteem, fitting in, frenemies, crushes, fame, first loves, and values. She is the author of True Colors, Best Friends…Forever?, Next Door to a Star, Landry in Like, Competing with the Star, Dating the It Guy, and Can Dreams Come True? True Colors, won the Readers Favorite award for best preteen book and the Dayton Book Expo Bestseller Award for children/teens. Competing with the Star is a Readers’ Favorite Book Award Finalist.

Krysten’s work has been featured in USA Today, The Flint Journal, the Grand Haven Tribune, the Beavercreek Current, the Bellbrook Times, Springfield News-Sun, Grand Blanc View, Dayton Daily News and on the talk show Living Dayton.

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Buy the book at Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon IN, Amazon Germany, Amazon Canada, Amazou Australia, or Barnes and Noble.


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