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Critique Groups Part 2: Private Online Groups

The Rich Writer: Critique Groups Part 2: Private Online Groups

The Rich Writer

How to Thrive on the Writer's Road

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Critique Groups Part 2: Private Online Groups

A face-to-face group can be wonderful, but it's not the right answer for everyone. When I first needed a critique group, I had an infant at home and lived too far from town for an easy commute. Lucky for me, the Internet offered opportunities for me to connect with other writers.

Online critique groups are a great tool, especially for writers who can't join a face-to-face group. They offer opportunities to share work with other readers; to give feedback on others' writing (an exercise that will strengthen your own writing muscles); and to form connections and friendships with others walking the same writing road.

The primary advantage of an online group is its ease of use; the primary disadvantage is that it offers "low-bandwidth" communication, so that friendships and discussions develop much more slowly than they would face-to-face. However, both types of groups can provide excellent feedback on your writing. I've found that written critiques are generally superior to verbal-only critiques, if only because the written critiques tend to be better thought out. Written critiques work well in both venues.

Different types of groups work better for different people and for different situations. I participated in a series of online critique groups before settling into one that really "fit"--a group that focused on fantasy and wrote primarily for middle-grade and YA audiences. We stayed together for years before going different directions in our writing lives. We no longer function as a critique group, but we keep in touch. Even over "low-bandwidth" e-mail communication, friendships develop when you stick together for four? five? years.

Now I'm in two different face-to-face groups, one large (15 or so members) and one small (3 members). Another friend is in both of those groups plus an online group, where members critique each others' picture books. Critique groups have many different looks, purposes, structures, and expertise. It takes a bit of searching to discover which one is right for you.

If you think that a private online group might fit your current needs, tune in Monday. I'll post some resources for locating an online group or starting one of your own.

:) Cheryl

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