Friday, August 22, 2008

Up for Discussion: Critique Groups...

Today on Jane Friedman's There Are No Rules blog, she posted the following:

This morning, we pitched a book on writing and critique groups. While anecdotal evidence tells us that most writers do participate in some form of critiquing (whether as part of a formal group or not), we don't have hard evidence. So the sales people tabled the project until we could return with information that substantiated our claims. They also disputed whether writers would spend their money on a book about writing groups and critiquing, even if they are an active writing group member.

So we're putting together a survey that will soon go out to Writer's Digest newsletter subscribers, to see what data we can collect. I'd love to hear from readers of this blog as well, if you know of any information/data that would be useful to us. (And if you have a blog, perhaps you can post on this topic and gather feedback too!) Ultimately, I'd love to create a groundswell of discussion that will convince our sales team that this idea deserves realization as a physical book.

I'd love to know your opinion on this issue.
  • Are you in a critique group?
  • Would you or your group consider buying a book about writing groups and critiquing?
  • Do you think such a book is needed?
I know a lot of you out there have critiques groups or critique partners. Maybe some of you are interested in joining or forming a group. Please weigh in our our discussion--comment here or on Jane's blog.

17 comments:

Carly said...

1. I'm in two critique groups.

2. I might consider buying such a book, but unless the book blew my mind, I wouldn't tell my other critique members about it.

3. It's hard to tell whether such a book is needed when the only description given is that it's "on writing and critique groups." What does that mean, really? Unless there's something specific and alluring to draw me to the book, I'm not going to spend my money on it. I'm trying to spend more time writing... which means I would like to spend only the time necessary (read: very little) to read about writing and critiquing.

Bonnie A said...

Ursula K. LeGuin's Steering the Craft addresses critique groups with an overview of what to look for in a group, how to structure critiques, and how to adapt the writing exercises (which form the bulk of the book) for use in a group. That's one I've already bought, so I might not be interested in another.

Also, I've been in a successful critique group for about two years. I do see new writers coming up all the time who are hungry for this type of information, though.

Amitha S. J. Knight said...

I am the leader of a children's writers critique group. I would be interested in a critique group book, and like carly, I would scope it out before recommending it to the other group members. I am actually attending a workshop for New England SCBWI critique group leaders on running a successful critique group. The workshop is being run by The Write Sisters, a critique group that has been going on for many years and has even published a book together. There are going to be many attendees at this workshop, so I think you can read this as a sign that people are interested.

Amy Tate said...

My critique group is a critical component in my writing. We only have four people - add one more and it would be too many. I've been in a group as large as 15. That means 15 different views, opinions, etc... When we formed our SCBWI group last spring, I read a couple of magazine articles that suggested good criteria for starting the group. Now that we've been meeting all summer, we're in a groove that works. So I think there is a market for folks who are just starting out, but then I agree with Carly in the fact that once the group is off the ground, the book would be a distraction. Serious writers want to dig into our manuscripts - not discuss the rules and legistics of the group.

cindy said...

1. i am part of two crit groups.

2. probably not--only because i've been critting for nearly two years now.

3. i can see it being useful for those who are new and want to form one?

Carolyn Howard-Johnson said...

I am in a couple of groups and used to facilitate a group for the Glendale Library system. Here's the thing. Though open critique groups can be valuable (poets can learn from novelists and novelists can learn a lot from screenwriters!), open groups tend to draw mostly newbies and, in that case, the information that is gleaned there may be very valuable if the group members keep in mind that the critiques are more like advice that would come from a general reader rather than from someone experienced in writing. A facilitator definitely can help them with a more experienced point of view.

Having said that, I think the best critique groups are those that writers assemble for themselves. I address this in The Frugal Book Promoter (check the index to lead you right to everyting on the subject of critique groups). The major piece of advice it gives is to:

1. Take a class in writing in the genre you prefer with a well-vetted instructor. You'll be more assured you'll get expertise if you choose classes offered by universities or by respected program like Gotham in New York.

2. After you have a handle on who you're compatible with, who will bring some experience to the group, etc., ask them to become part of your newly formed group.

In my first class at UCLA Writers' Program, our teacher took the time to put people she thought would be writing-compatible together. She is now part of my the very critique group that she put together for us. In ten years we had come such a long way she felt that we had something to offer. (-: I've even written a column for MyShelf. com on this experienc. Go to www.myshelf.com and click on the "Back To Literature" column on the home page. It should be up for a week or so. After that it will be archived.

Best,
Carolyn Howard-Johnson
Author of the award-winning HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers
www.howtodoitfrugally.com

akcotham said...

1. I am in two critique groups. One is a more general writing crit group that meets in public and is open to anybody who wants to show up, though 90% of the time, 90% of the participants are regulars. The other group is a novelists critique group, and it is a closed group.

2. I'm not sure. We're all avid readers and we love sharing technique books in general. I know the founders of the first group did some research to figure out how best to run the group, and a lot of it was stuff they learned along the way (that didn't work, but this did, etc.) Each participant in the second group contributed their own knowledge of how writing groups work to set up ground rules here, whether that knowledge came from personal experience or something they read. Inspiration for setting up the novelist group in the first place was partly thanks to an article we read in Writers Digest.

3. Although I had the same question as carly--what exactly does "on writing and critique groups" mean?--I am presuming that such a book would include information on how to set up a group, and moreover how to RUN a group in a way that benefited all participants, and I think such a book would be very helpful. A lot of people are eager for writing support groups, and a good one is hard to find.

Debbie Diesen said...

My critique group, which I've been in for almost seven years now, has been crucial in my development as a writer. The members of my group have also over the years become my great friends -- they're now like a second family.

But I know that not all writers have such positive experiences with critique groups. I think many writers would welcome a book that would help make the starting-a-group process more deliberate, perhaps with a "what are you looking for in a critique group" or a "what's your critique group style" questionnaire that potential members of a new group could fill out and then compare ahead of time. That way, they could see if they really match up on key points of why they want a group. Also useful would be a list of common mistakes/issues that critique groups run into, and how to prevent them. Critique group advice and stories from experienced writers (those with positive experiences as well as Awful Experiences) would be great, too.

The nuts and bolts of critiquing are crucial, and would need to be covered in detail. But the compatibility issues are something a lot of people don't think to discuss until they suddenly discover things aren't working out, so if a book on critique groups covered those along with the critiquing how-to, it would be a hugely helpful resource.

Carolyn Howard-Johnson said...

AK Cotham said: I think such a book would be very helpful. A lot of people are eager for writing support groups, and a good one is hard to find.
----
Although there are books on the subject, perhaps yours could bring something new to the table. Maybe hints from facilitators, as an example. I did that with The Frugal Editor (yes, there are lots of books on editing out there other than that one!) and the expertise brought to the chapter I included with ideas from agents (for query letters) is one of the most popular--at least it's the one people mention most frequently.

I don't think the question is, would a book on this topic be helpful? It should be what can we bring to this book that would make it more helpful than others out there. Stephen King, as you noted, mentions groups (mostly unfavorably) but there his is not a how-to. I believe in tons of resources and step-by-step instructions. I thin if you do that, this niche market could be a large enough niche to make it well worthwhile.
Best,
Carolyn Howard-Johnson
www.howtodoitfrugally.com

Fran said...

1. I am in two critique groups: one has 5 SCBWI members in it, and the other has 12 members (not all active at a given time) and is a mix of children's and adult lit authors. I've been in the former for 3 years and the latter for 2.

2. I would not buy such a book now, primarily because I am completely satisfied with my groups!

3. I do think there is a market - I would have bought such a book prior to getting into my groups. I think a person who is not satisfied with her group would want such a book. Or a person who is having a problem with a crit group member might want to access such a book. Or a group that has been together for a long time and needs a shake up might want to read it together.

Julianne Daggett said...

I'm not apart of a critique group per se, but while I was a student at Louisiana Tech University I had English professors, some writing friends, and some reading friends read my work and discuss my writing. It's not formal in any regard and there are no rules, just great discussion and feedback, and it works for me.

I can see where a book would be good for some groups, but it wouldn't work for my ad hoc group.

Kristi Holl said...

I've been part of a critique group for nearly a year, and I love it. I will ask them tomorrow if they would buy such a book. I do sometimes refer to Judy Reeves' book WRITING ALONE, WRITING TOGETHER about different ways to structure groups and various activities to try. Would your book be different?
Writer's First Aid

Becky Mushko said...

I'm in the same critique group as earlier poster Amy Tate. That the four of us are tightly focused on the children's market is a plus. We are each different enough from the others to offer a variety of viewpoints. Although this group has only existed since the spring, it has been invaluable in helping me develop my manuscript. Since we're so small, we don't really have a leader.

Three of our group were previously members of a now-defunct writers group that had no specific purpose and was tightly controlled by a leader who didn't encourage critiques. The fourth was a member of another (larger) group I'm in—a helpful group with several genres represented. Because the four of us shared common interests and experiences, we knew rom the start what we wanted in a crit group. However, a group formed of strangers could probably use some guidelines, so a book might be helpful.

I might consider buying such a book, depending upon its information. A book about forming a critique group would certainly be for a niche market—but it would fill a definite need..

Carolyn Howard-Johnson said...

Just an additional comment. Give it a great, snappy title and a subtitle that lets writers know how they'll benefit from it, and this book is sure to sell to its niche.
Best,
Carolyn Howard-Johnson
Author of The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success
www.howtodoitfrugally.com

fgeegf said...

情色電影, aio交友愛情館, 言情小說, 愛情小說, 色情A片, 情色論壇, 色情影片, 視訊聊天室, 免費視訊聊天, 免費視訊, 視訊美女, 視訊交友, ut聊天室, 視訊聊天, 免費視訊聊天室, a片下載, av片, A漫, av dvd, av成人網, 聊天室, 成人論壇, 本土自拍, 自拍, A片, 愛情公寓, 情色, 舊情人, 情色貼圖, 情色文學, 情色交友, 色情聊天室, 色情小說, 一葉情貼圖片區, 情色小說, 色情, 色情遊戲, 情色視訊, 情色電影, aio交友愛情館, 色情a片, 一夜情, 辣妹視訊, 視訊聊天室, 免費視訊聊天, 免費視訊, 視訊, 視訊美女, 美女視訊, 視訊交友, 視訊聊天, 免費視訊聊天室, 情人視訊網, 影音視訊聊天室, 視訊交友90739, 成人影片, 成人交友,

免費A片, 本土自拍, AV女優, 美女視訊, 情色交友, 免費AV, 色情網站, 辣妹視訊, 美女交友, 色情影片, 成人影片, 成人網站, A片,H漫, 18成人, 成人圖片, 成人漫畫, 情色網, 日本A片, 免費A片下載, 性愛, 成人交友, 嘟嘟成人網, 成人電影, 成人, 成人貼圖, 成人小說, 成人文章, 成人圖片區, 免費成人影片, 成人遊戲, 微風成人, 愛情公寓, 情色, 情色貼圖, 情色文學, 做愛, 色情聊天室, 色情小說, 一葉情貼圖片區, 情色小說, 色情, 寄情築園小遊戲, 色情遊戲, 情色視訊,

uhfdf said...

美女脫光光的照片,美女寫真天蠶變下載,蠟筆小新影片,18成人網,自拍寫真,熟女情色貼圖,卡通美女裸體漫畫,176視訊聊天,免費線上影片,台灣美女寫真集圖片館,小魔女貼影片,小弟弟影片,內衣被拿下來的美女,夢工廠成人影音網站,真實做愛照片,檳榔西施清涼秀,xyz辣妹影音聊天網,熊貓成人貼,金瓶梅成人影片交流區,免費情色電影下載,午夜成人,娘家影片,情色小說,免費網路電視,本土自拍貼圖,聊天室avooo,av片,85cc免費影城,台灣自拍寫真照片館,情色圖書館,免費a圖a片,比基尼辣妹影片,拓網交友,台灣人情色貼圖區,正妹圖片,

自拍偷窺貼圖區,視訊交友90739,內衣美女寫真,維克斯論壇,av片,本土自拍照片,176視訊聊天,聊天,搜樂論壇,交友聊天室,無名正妹強力版,109辣妹自拍,檳榔西施自拍照片,kijiji奇集集,pc交友,愛情公寓聊天室,珠海自拍寫真,ut女同聊天室,735聊天室,情色小站,免費情色小說,小瓢蟲論壇,金瓶梅情色文學,後宮電影案,69成人,自拍美女聊天室,聊天ukiss tw,小弟第貼影片,熟女裸體貼圖,kavo,ut 聊天室,後宮色情電影,a片天堂,a片影片,淫蕩少女貼圖,丁字褲美女影片,麗的情色,視訊聊天,人妻自拍貼圖,免費看aa片,

sa said...

AV,無碼,a片免費看,自拍貼圖,伊莉,微風論壇,成人聊天室,成人電影,成人文學,成人貼圖區,成人網站,一葉情貼圖片區,色情漫畫,言情小說,情色論壇,臺灣情色網,色情影片,色情,成人影城,080視訊聊天室,a片,A漫,h漫,麗的色遊戲,同志色教館,AV女優,SEX,咆哮小老鼠,85cc免費影片,正妹牆,ut聊天室,豆豆聊天室,聊天室,情色小說,aio,成人,微風成人,做愛,成人貼圖,18成人,嘟嘟成人網,aio交友愛情館,情色文學,色情小說,色情網站,情色,A片下載,嘟嘟情人色網,成人影片,成人圖片,成人文章,成人小說,成人漫畫,視訊聊天室,性愛,a片,AV女優,聊天室,情色