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  1. marcusl
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    marcusl Member

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    Critique groups

    Discussion in 'The Art of Critique' started by marcusl, Oct 17, 2009.

    Some writers say it's important to join live critique groups. As in, the members meet up in real life rather than online. I was just wondering if anyone here has been involved in something like that? What do you think of it?

    Thanks.
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    It depends entirely on the group. It only takes one member with an agenda to ruin it. You can run into the Control Freak, the Angst Monster, Tearful Tess, The Pedant, to name a few. I'll leave it to your imagination how each of these characters can monopolize the sessions.

    But if you get a good team together, everyone can learn a great deal.

    I don't know how likely you are to get a good group together though. Fixing a flawed group dynamic is difficult at best.
     
  3. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    It's too individual to give a good answer. Having one is certainly not a bad idea, but I've personally gotten much more out of these on line groups and a few friends than I ever have from the kinds of groups you're talking about.
     
  4. ManhattanMss
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    ManhattanMss Contributing Member

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    Having a real face-to-face group usually means you meet on a schedule of some kind, which can have a very positive motivating effect on your own writing schedule. Another plus for an in-person group is that you don't have to worry about the issue of whether your work already exists in some form in cyberspace, which can sometimes be a problem for publishability.

    Otherwise, I agree with what others have said that there are many experiences from bad to good, depending upon how the particular group coalesces or doesn't and, importantly, depending upon what you expect to gain from the experience.

    I find that it's harder in real life (than in virtual reality) to provide useful objective feedback about others' work and, likewise, to have others do the same with yours. Interpreting feedback is more difficult, too, given that live give-and-take carries its own socially acceptable behaviors that, rightly and wrongly, tend to be seen as reflecting the particular personalities behind the behavior. In a virtual setting, you can react any way that comes naturally without choosing to open up that reaction to critical scrutiny that can color others' perceptions of both you and your writing.

    I have a feeling, too, that it matters (both for in-person and virtual) what kind of fiction participants actually read and enjoy, because that could reflect the kind of writing objectives they'd be likely to recognize and comment on in a way that could be more useful to the writer.

    Doesn't really hurt to give it a try. Just be prepared with an "exit strategy" you're comfortable with, should you find it just doesn't work for you.
     
  5. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    who?... are they successful, well-published writers, or just other aspiring ones?

    i don't recommend that to the aspiring writers i mentor, as i feel it's wasting time they need to spend on their work... also for the reasons cog gave above...
     
  6. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    I think online is better because in person people are less honest. Online they don't feel like they have to spare your feelings because they can't see your reactions.

    Any critique from a reader is helpful. We want to know what the average reader gets out of the story as well. Are there parts that confuse them?

    The best thing to do in person, is watch the person read your manuscript. Watch for when they smile, when they bunch up their brows, when they look confused, etc.
     

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