Preparing a Submission for a Critique Group Session

Material submitted to a critique group is somewhere between a first draft and the final draft and may be an entire short story or just a few scenes from a novel. On one hand, a true first draft is riddled with grammar and spelling problems, best fixed with a grammar and spell checker like Grammarly or ProWritingAid. A critique group should not waste time commenting on, or suggesting fixes for, …

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Keys to Improving the Flow in Your Writing

Flow in writing is difficult to define, but readers always seem to recognize it. A flowing science fiction novel sucks the reader into the story, makes the unbelievable logical and prevents the poor reader from putting the book down until the last word passes into their brain long after dark. So, if defining flow is difficult, perhaps the opposite is comprehensible. Choppy, telegraphic, terse, repetitive, dense, lean, or clipped are …

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Enlisting New Members to a Writers Critique Group

The total member count of any critique group will increase and decrease frequently. It’s just the nature of any situation heavy on judgement. And as some members progress to senior writers and publish their books, they may become too busy to attend regularly. If you’re a critique group leader, it’s your job to keep track of those members who come and go, and a huge part of your job is …

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Is Sasquatch the next big thing?

The market seems flooded with books and movies about the undead. Over the past few decades, authors have made us fear, fall in love, or pity them. Have we reached a saturation point for Vampires and Zombies? Will the next villain extravaganza be witches, ghosts, or aliens? Or have those subgenres also had their share of the paranormal spotlight? Move over scoundrels … here comes Bigfoot Of late, the large …

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How to Find a Critique Group

Finding a critique group is easy. Follow the advice in this post to start your search. The Personal Way Asking a writer friend is one of the easiest ways to find a critique group. Or try an independent bookstore that sells books by local authors. Check their bulletin board for possible groups. You can also ask a librarian–a library being a place where critique groups often meet. If you don’t …

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What to Expect at Your First Critique Session

If you’re seeking membership in a critique group, it’s most likely because you hope to improve your ability to tell a story. If you’re a new writer, you’re also looking for guidance on the basics of grammar and craft. And if you’re a published author, you might be looking for reasons your books aren’t selling. Whatever your circumstances, it’s important to first know what you hope to gain from a …

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The Big Reveal and Plot Twists

The best way to create an effective “big reveal” is to have characters search for information, an object, or a person, so that their search leads to the big reveal — even if the big reveal is NOT the thing they were actually looking for. Orson Scott Card Fiction writing is a process of imparting information to a reader. That information might be about events, characters or rules of the …

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Types of Critique Groups

Critique groups fall into several broad categories: Neighborhood writing groups for all genres Urban writing groups in a specific genre Genre-specific groups sponsored by a larger writer’s association (like Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers located in Colorado). A membership fee is required. Ad hoc groups of genre-specific writers that expanded via the Internet National or international writing groups with hundreds or thousands of writers. The Internet development and management costs require …

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Beware of Critique Groups

Beware of Critique Groups!

Okay, I admit the title for this post is a little dramatic. So far we’ve been touting the importance of running your work through a critique group. Now I make them sound like a house of horrors. Know that this post isn’t meant to scare you away from critique groups. Mainly, it’s important to understand the choices you’ll face and the issues you’ll encounter as a member, which will ensure …

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Elements of a Good Critique

Like a pilot preparing for takeoff, the person conducting a critique reads the submitted material and “runs a checklist.” Except for grammar, spelling and word choice, the critiquer should not make definitive recommendations to avoid polluting the original writer’s creativity. The rewrite is always up to the author. There are a number of different items in which a writer may request a critique, a few listed below: TITLE – descriptive, …

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