It’s no secret that I belong to the critique group called Writers World on Facebook. What is a critique group? It’s a place where you post pieces of your writing for others to read and comment on. They make suggestions to improve the writing, pointing out problems with your tense, point of view, if it’s interesting, etc. A great critique group with great members make the comments in a polite way, explaining things you don’t understand.
If you have problems with grammar and punctuation, there is someone in that group who will let you know what is wrong, but it’s up to you to accept what they tell you and make the changes. Also, you should make note of what they said for future reference, so you learn the rules. Yes, there are rules for writing a story, be it short or long. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Some posters in critique groups seem to think rules are made to be broken. Sure, if you know what you are doing and do it properly. But if you are still learning the rules, don’t go off and say they don’t apply to you.
Another thing, if two or more people critique your post and point out the same thing pay attention! That means there is something wrong and you need to fix it. Whatever they spotted a potential reader of your book will see it and that could bring down your rating. Don’t argue with the ones critiquing your work. They are spending their time and doing you a favor. Be polite. Sure, there are some posters who love nothing more than slapping down what you wrote. Ignore them. They are trolls and the best advice is to block them on FB. Don’t Feed the Trolls!
What a critique group isn’t for is helping with ideas for writing. For crying out loud! You have the internet at your disposal for finding ideas. You have newspapers, libraries, books in your house. Don’t go asking for ideas! If you can’t come up with an idea for a story, how can you call yourself a writer? The same goes for characters: there are loads of sites on the internet that can give you character ideas and even questionnaires to fill out for them. Now, if you are having a hard time deciding what point of view to write your story from, go ahead and ask about it.
Now, if this is your first time in a critique group, don’t worry. The first thing you need to do is read the Pinned Post! Each group has their own set of rules and it’s a good idea to follow them if you don’t want to get booted. Take your time, read through the various posts, get to the know the other members. Don’t go around asking to be friends with everyone. Once you feel confident, go ahead, and critique a post. You don’t have to be an expert in grammar and punctuation’ if you spot a misspelled word, point it out. Politely, please. Give the poster the same courtesy and respect that you want to receive. If something reads awkwardly, or doesn’t seem to fit in the piece, let the writer know. Don’t ever tell a poster that they should give up writing and find another career. They are there to learn the same as you are.
When you post something, make sure you run it through a spell checker/grammar checker before you do. Read through what you wrote before posting it. Learn to catch simple mistakes. Don’t expect others to continuously fix your spelling mistakes. You aren’t the only person posting, and if you keep posting pieces with basic mistakes that you should have fixed, the others in the group won’t want to critique your work. IF you are looking for a specific critique: such as flow, or point of view, make a note of that in the beginning of the post. If the piece you post has a personal thought or two of a character, use something like <i> before and after the thought so the reader will know it’s italicized.
Belonging to a critique group is a wonderful thing, and makes the process of writing less lonely. You can make some great friends in the group and that helps a lot in our lonely path we now follow. Just remember to be polite in dealing with others.
May the words ever flow!