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Critique Groups Part 1: Face-to-Face Groups

The Rich Writer: Critique Groups Part 1: Face-to-Face Groups

The Rich Writer

How to Thrive on the Writer's Road

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Critique Groups Part 1: Face-to-Face Groups

Part 1: Face-to-Face Groups

A face-to-face group offers "high-bandwidth" communication. That is, when you're sitting with a group around a table discussing a piece of work, communication occurs more rapidly and deeply than it can in a written format, including words, voice tone , facial expressions, clarifying questions, and other types of conversational give-and-take. You're more likely to form deep friendships in a face-to-face group, simply because communication occurs more rapidly than it can in writing.

In my opinion, face-to-face groups can the most rewarding in terms of building relationships, but they can also be more difficult to find. They can also be more difficult logistically, because you have to attend the group at a particular time and place, which can be problems for those who have young children or live off the beaten path.

If you think a face-to-face group is the best option for you, get ready to network. In order to join a local group, you need to meet other local writers. Here are some places to start:

  1. Attend local writing conferences and meet other writers. Introduce yourself. Ask around--are there others in your area looking for a group? Are there existing groups willing to take members?

  2. BUT--Don't expect established writing groups to welcome you with open arms. The world is filled with would-be writers, most of whom aren't in the field for the long haul. Expect to demonstrate your commitment (and that you're a decent person) before the invites flood in.

  3. Pay attention to names and, when you get home, read what people wrote. If you like what you read, let them know. Connect with other area writers at book signings, literature readings, poetry corners, writing classes. As you get to know other writers, they begin to know you--and one of them will think of you the next time they hear of a critique group opening.

  4. Check out your local SCBWI chapter. Ours doesn't only sponsor conferences, it sponsors local get-togethers and one-day workshops where you can meet area writing folk.

  5. Consider advertising. Local bookstores and coffee shops are often willing to host writing groups, so put out the word and start your own. Yes, you might get a lot of people with even less talent and experience than you at the beginning :) ...but eventually, you'll meet a few people who click with you and where you are. Eventually, you can get your own fantastic group going.

Have fun!


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