If you want to start a critique group or have an existing critique group, are you clear on what the purpose of your critique group is? This may be a puzzling question at first, since obviously the mission of your critique group is to provide critiques. But is that specific enough to attract a group of writers who share the same intention for a critique gathering?
Here is a sample set of questions to get you thinking about possible critique group purposes:
- Do you want to start a group of new writers, OR writers who have drafted at least one complete novel, OR writers who are published?
- Do you want a critique group that tends toward all business when you gather, or do you want a critique group that allows more time for general support and encouragement?
- Do you want a critique group focused on building specific writing skills: i.e., this week we focus on plot, this week we focus on character, etc.?
- Or do you want to create a critique group focused on writing cross-culturally? E.g., your group reads an article or blog post on writing cross-culturally and then brings writing samples for critique where the writers have applied the learnings from the reading?
- Or maybe you want to create a critique group that has an hour for writing/responding to a prompt, and then the rest of the meeting time is reading those short passages/prompt responses.
- Or perhaps you want an inspiration focused critique group? E.g., one meeting is an Artist Date kind of outing, the next meeting designated for critiquing writing samples inspired by that outing?
Any and all of the above, as well as variations not yet imagined, qualify as a critique group.
Once you have a clear purpose in mind for your critique group, write it down and communicate it. If you are an existing critique group without a clear purpose statement, you might take one meeting to work this out as a group.
Why is purpose important? It helps a group stay on point. It decreases the likelihood of group members getting frustrated because of differing expectations, i.e., why the group is gathering/what they are expecting to get out of it. A clear purpose will also save you time when your group is open to new members, as potential members will self-select out of applying if your group’s purpose does not match their goals for being in a critique group.
Bottom line: Purposes rock!
Onward in kindness and clarity,
Christine Carron, The Critique MD
P.S. Look for news coming soon about The Critique MD’s first live webinar course: A Whole-Brain Approach to Giving and Receiving Critiques.