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Author Blog Challenge 9: The key to a great critique group is… (plus a funny bonus)

English: Smith & Wesson 686 6" .357 Magnum

English: Smith & Wesson 686 6″ .357 Magnum (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

*If you’ve just popped in for the funny (and insightful!) bonus, you’ll find the link to the Writing Critique Group Decoder at the bottom of this post. Thanks for visiting ChazzWrites.com and please do subscribe.

Today’s Author Blog Challenge writing prompt is: Have you participated in a critique groups? If so, how did it work out for you? If not, why have you avoided them to this point?

True story:

I visited a writing group and much of the discussion was dominated by an imperious woman who was keen to get a critiquing group started. Only she pronounced it: “Kr-eye-teaking.” Then she said, “Kudos to you!” But she pronounced it “KA-doos“.

I didn’t want to be part of her critique group.

Then another writing group invited new members and I checked it out.

Nice folks, but they were light on writing experience and didn’t read the genres in which I write. Worse, one guy (who would have been 25% of the group) spoke at great length about the book he would someday write. It was sci-fi, which was fine, but he was too invested in theory and he didn’t have a story. He had a wacky setting which took half an hour to explain. It would be hard to get invested in a story where the characters were inert alien rods…unless we’re talking about the aliens behind Third Rock from the Sun. (That’s kind of funny if you remember the details of that sit com.)

I didn’t join that group, either. We didn’t have enough in common in what we liked to read and write and if I had to hear another word about this amazing civilization living in the rings of Saturn, I would have had to shoot myself in the face.

But I do have a critique group and that’s working out great. Well, not exactly. They’re my beta team.

For my crime novel, Bigger Than Jesus, I needed a beta team to proof my manuscript and find bugs. It was the betas that reminded me that Dirty Harry didn’t carry a .357 Magnum. It was a .44. The beta team caught that the Coen brothers of movie fame don’t spell their name with an h. (I guess I was thinking of the Cohen brothers of legal fame.)

The key to finding your critique group, or beta team, is: Choose wisely. Say no. Don’t settle.

I found a great team in a SWAT trainer, an ex-military buddy, a teacher, a psychologist, two fellow writers and the funniest woman I know who also happens to be a voracious reader. They’re all getting signed copies of the paperback with a spot in the Acknowledgements section and help with their books when they decide to write them. And lollipops.

*BONUS:

A while back I wrote The Critique Group Decoder as a service to writers uninitiated in the dance. Click for the laughs. Stay for the reality.

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11 Responses

  1. Good advice to never settle. I have an elite group of friends that read for me and offer feedback. We all need that. I am very blessed. WRITE ON!

  2. Whitney Rains says:

    I’ve nominated you for the Reader Appreciation Award! Congrats and I love your blog!
    http://aserendipitoushappenstance.wordpress.com/2012/06/10/blog-awards-and-my-recent-absence/

  3. moonduster says:

    I’m jealous. My critique group doesn’t give me lollipops. *sigh*

  4. […] Author Blog Challenge 9: The key to a great critique group is… (plus a funny bonus) (chazzwrites.com) […]

  5. […] Author Blog Challenge 9: The key to a great critique group is… (plus a funny bonus) (chazzwrites.com) […]

  6. […] ROBERT CHAZZ CHUTE. True story: I visited a writing group and much of the discussion was dominated by an imperious woman who was keen to get a critiquing group started. Only she pronounced it: “Kr-eye-teaking.” Then she said, “Kudos to you!” But she pronounced it “KA-doos.” I didn’t want to be part of her critique group. […]

  7. […] Author Blog Challenge 9: The key to a great critique group is… (plus a funny bonus) (chazzwrites.com) […]

  8. […] Author Blog Challenge 9: The key to a great critique group is… (plus a funny bonus) (chazzwrites.com) […]

  9. […] Author Blog Challenge 9: The key to a great critique group is… (plus a funny bonus) (chazzwrites.com) […]

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