Monday, September 25, 2006

Ask the Authors: Monday

Welcome back to "ask the authors week." This week we will pose five questions to our contributors, and you'll find their varied answers to a single question each day.

If you have questions you'd like us to ask during a future "Ask the Authors" week, send it to As always, thanks for joining us!

Do you, or have you, belong(ed) to a critique group? Was this beneficial for you and if so, how?

No, I never have. But I have sent scenes from time to time to a group of friends, and they've given me great comments, helped me see places where I need to tighten, and really helped me refine my writing skills. --Karen Ball

Not until I joined a critique group did I begin writing for publication. The monthly meetings gave me a deadline, exposure to critique (which made me try harder to prove them wrong), and put me in contact with people who shared a common goal as well as information about publishers guidelines and needs. If it had not been for the critique group I may never have started writing seriously. -- Jack Cavanaugh

I've never belonged to one. Many writers seem to find critique groups beneficial, though. -BJ Hoff

I've never belonged to a critique group--my approach to writing was too accidental to do something so purposeful--but I often use "test readers" whom I trust to tell me if something isn't working. --Angela Hunt

I participated in a critique group around books 10 and 11. It was a horrid experience for me. I don't do well writing by committee, and since I am an intuitive writer, I work best without other input during the creative process. With rare exceptions, my editor is the first person who sees the book. Occasionally I will ask a trusted writer friend to read a scene or a chapter if I'm struggling with something, just to make sure I'm conveying what I hope to convey.
Having said all that, I am a huge believer in brainstorming groups. Once or twice a year, I love to get together with writers to brainstorm story ideas. -- Robin Lee Hatcher

I'm really not a "joiner" at heart, though I love keeping in touch with writer friends online. Time is also a challenge for me. All this to say, no, I've never belonged to a critique group! Instead I engage a few early readers for each manuscript-in-progress to keep me on track.--Liz Curtis Higgs

I live seven miles from my mailbox and eleven miles from pavement so it's just too far to travel for a critique group. I tried one on line but found myself pushing to meet the group's deadline rather than writing to meet my publisher's deadline or my own.--Jane Kirkpatrick

No, I don't. I'm too dad-blamed independent. I want to write what I want to write, and wail and moan all by myself. Other people would get tired of me in a hurry anyway. Then when the thing's all done, I do let a few people read it for feedback. --Brandilyn Collins

I believe I was published much faster because of my critique group. They were knowledgeable about the structure of the novel as well as the Christian book market. My undergraduate writing experiences in college (back in the Stone Age of Christian writing) focused on grammar and some creative writing but not the bones of a novel. My mentor also taught all of us to generate plot ideas very quickly and efficiently. I was not only able to make my first sale one year later, but have continued to remain contracted since that first critique group back in 1992. College writing programs now recognize the importance of the small group workshop, so new writers may access these in most every state now. When you sign onto a writing program, be sure to ask if they offer critique groups or small workshop groups. --Patricia Hickman

I've never been part of a formal critique group, but I do ask a few people to read my novels before the final draft. Usually these are fiction readers I can trust to be very frank about any weaknesses they find. Sometimes I ask certain people because their demographic profile gives them some special authority to speak about particular aspects of story. In that way, I get an insider's perspective, so to speak. --Athol Dickson

I had a critique partner when I first started writing 22 years ago. That partner still critiques anything before it goes to the publisher, and she does so for others now, and for pay. I still credit her for whipping me into shape. I don't belong to a crit group, because that's too overwhelming. --Hannah Alexander

Yes, for a short period, years ago, when I was writing my second series of historical novels, I belonged to a critique group. It wasn't beneficial in the sense that I got good feedback, however, it made me really polish up my writing, or at least a portion of it, to be read aloud each week. And I met a lot of neat people who encouraged me along the way. I think the camaraderie was something very special. --Lisa Samson

I did, once. For the beginning writer they're good, but if you're published I think critiques tend to be confusing. There's always the exception, but I like to have one or two confidants that I trust to me feedback on my work--and everyone does need feedback. --Lori Copeland

I never knew there was such a thing as a critique group. I thought all writers worked alone, sent in their work and hoped for the best. I did, however, show my early work to a few people I trusted, asking them for feedback. That helped. When I got a screenplay back that didn't work for some reason, it made me want to dig in and get it right and do another one. --James Scott Bell

I've never been in a critique group, but for the past 3-4 years, I've had a critique partner, author Tamera Alexander. Both her encouragement and her honest criticism of my work are so helpful to the writing process, I honestly don't know how I ever wrote without her! --Deborah Raney


At 3:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I read this whole post aloud to my critique partner this morning, while we had our coffee in bed. Very convenient, finding out after nearly 30 years of sleeping with the guy, that he's the one for me.

I've been around the block with other partners, and one or the other of us always ended up unfaithful. But this man's been quietly waiting for me to commit, and now that I have, I find he's singularly capable at both critique and brainstorming. I am one blessed woman.

Katy McKenna

At 7:22 PM, Blogger Richard said...

Thanks so very much for giving us these insights. I suppose that the reason I'm so grateful is that most of the authors mirror my own thoughts--always the sign of intelligence and maturity. (Just kidding)
In the end, each author will make his or her own decision in this matter, of course. But it's interesting and helpful to know what course others have taken.

At 10:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I noticed the joiners and non-joiners balanced fairly well, but if I'd been asked, my response would be the same as Brandilyn Collins. Thanks Brandilyn, I don't feel like such a social outcast.


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