Before you pull back the curtain on your writing masterpiece, you’ll probably want to get some feedback first. A writing critique group or critique partners can be a critical component to the eventual success of your work. These individuals can help flag issues with your early drafts, tell you the hard truths when something isn’t working and help you put on the final polish that will make your manuscript shine.
I have been a part of several writers critique groups and now work with a handful of trusted critique partners. I wouldn’t dream of publishing a short story, novella or novel without having my critique partners scour every chapter, paragraph and sentence. They always seem to catch plot holes I miss, ask me hard-hitting questions I hadn’t considered, find long-winded and bloated info dumps, and challenge me to write stronger, crisper scenes.
It’s taken me a lot of time and effort to build an effective network of writing critique partners. If you are a new author, you could probably use the feedback, camaraderie and motivation of a critique group or critique partners even more. But where o’ where to find a critique group or critique partners? This can be a challenge for new writers who do not have a lot of contacts yet in the writing world. Fortunately, critique partners and writer’s groups are easy to come by. The hard part is actually finding a group or a critique partner that meets your specific needs as an author (more on that in my next post). Below are some of the best avenues for finding writers critique groups or critique partners.
There are many large writers associations that have local chapters all across the country as well as a big online presence. One of the largest groups is Romance Writers of America, which hosts 145 local and online chapters. If you are a romance writer and have a chapter in your area, this is a great place to find potential critique partners! Other large groups include Mystery Writers of America and the Horror Writers Association. Not every group will have a chapter in your area, but you don’t need to meet face-to-face with your critique partner anyway. See if you can find an online organization dedicated to your particular genre, and then put out a post looking for critique partners. You can always meet through Skype or send chapters back and forth through email.
Social Media Groups
Facebook, LinkedIn and Goodreads all host many groups dedicated to authors, including genre-specific groups and self-publishing writers groups. There plenty of active online writers critique groups that you can join through these sites. Be careful, though, because these groups may be large and unwieldy with many members who drop in and out. It might be a better idea to join a few of these groups and put some feelers out for online critique partners. Be very clear about your current writing situation and what you are looking for in a critique partner.
Meetups and Local Writers Groups
If you near a large or medium-sized city, chances are that there is at least one writers critique group actively meeting near you. In all likelihood, there are several, and there may even be genre-specific groups. The website, Meetup.com is a great place to look for local writing groups meeting in your area. Put in the term “writing” or “authors” in the search box of the site and see what comes up. You can also just do a plain old Google search for “writers group, Your City”. Most serious writing groups have a website, Facebook page or Meetup page established that should come up in the search engine rankings.
Local Writers Conferences
Writers conferences are the perfect place to meet local writers who are serious about becoming successful authors. These conferences aren’t cheap, so I wouldn’t suggest plunking down the $300 – $1,000 registration fee just to find local critique partners, but if you are already set on attending an event, start asking around. Go to a session or two that is specific to your genre, and you’re bound to meet someone who is looking for a critique partner.
Many universities and community colleges offer extended learning writing classes and novel-writing courses. What’s great about this option is that these classes pretty much function as a writers critique group with a lot of added benefits. These courses are usually taught by an author who has published before who can provide you with structure and guidance. These classes can help keep you motivated, and the friendships you create in the class could turn into long-term, productive critique partnerships.
While Craigslist certainly wouldn’t be my first choice to find a writers critique group or a critique partner, it could certainly be worth a try if all else fails. Craigslist provides a list of local area groups and activities where you may find existing writers critique groups. You can also place a personal ad for a writing critique partner. If you do post a personal ad, be prepared to wade through a lot of low-quality responses in order to find some gems.
With all of these options, you should be able to find a writers critique group or a book critique partner with only a little effort. Don’t be afraid to try online groups or partnerships. While meeting in an artsy coffee shop to discuss your latest chapters is certainly a thrill, it really isn’t necessary in this era of cell phones, Skype and email.
Take your time and make sure you find a writers group or critique partnership that is right for you. Oftentimes, the challenge will not be finding a group or partner but finding the right group or partner. In my next blog post, I will tell you the top five things to look for in a writing critique partner.