Thursday, December 16, 2010

Finding a critique group

by Leanne Dyck

On Friday, December tenth I was fortunate to have a guest blogger at Terrill Welch, a member of my critique group, gave a sneak reviewer’s peek at my soon-to-be published thriller and initiated a discussion on creative communities.

On Monday, December thirteenth the post on the Sweater Cursed blog was titled ‘Forming a creative community, tips for you’.

Today, I would like to continue this discussion, here.

Many publishing houses advise aspiring/emerging authors to join critique groups, and as one who has greatly benefited from such groups, I too would encourage involvement.

Question: How do (did/will) you find a critique group?

Answer: Writer societies offer their members writing resources. Often, one of these resources is a critique group.

Question: How do you find a writers’ society?

Answer: I found the contact information for the Victoria Writers’ Society while flipping through the pages of their literary journal—Island Writer.

As a way to showcase members and publicize the group, many writers’ societies publish literary journals.

Literary journals are available from local libraries or bookstores.

Another way to find writers’ societies is to use a search engine.

Question: Where do critique groups meet?

Answer: Many critique groups meet in public venues such as community centres or libraries.

Question: What if it isn’t easy for you to attend meetings? What if you are a professional whose career dominates their life? What if you are a stay-at-home parent whose world is full of diapers and bottles? What if you live in a remote location? What do you do? How to you gain the benefit of a critique group?

Answer: Meeting online may be one solution.

Question: How do you find a critique egroup?

Answer: One of the resources writers’ societies provide their members is a newsletter. By flipping (or scrolling) through, you may find an announcement regarding critique groups.

Question: What do you do if your writers’ society doesn’t offer a critique egroup?

Answer: You start your own. I did.

Question: How do you attract members?

Answer: Thanks to my affiliation with the Victoria Writers’ Society finding members was relatively easy. Each month the society placed an announcement regarding the egroup in the newsletter.

Question: What are my responsibilities as a critique egroup facilitator?

Answer: Before forming the group, the facilitator should have a clear vision of the type of group that is to be formed.

To gain a clear vision, ask yourself these questions…

1) What type of writing would you like to share: non-fiction, fiction, flash fiction, short stories, poetry, or longer pieces? If you’re interested in sharing longer work, what is the maximum word count you’re interested in critiquing? Remember, the longer the piece the more time and work will be required in critiquing it.

2) How often will you exchange work?

3) How large would you like the group to become?

Once the group is formed, a facilitator should ensure that all members feel welcome, heard and receive the support they seek.

As well, if a dispute arises between members, it is the responsibility of the facilitator to settle the conflict.

Facilitating an egroup is demanding. However, it has been my experience that it’s well worth the effort.

Please visit my creative community at:

If you have additional questions or would like to share your experiences, please leave a comment. Thank you.

Leanne Dyck


Maureen said...

You certainly were determined! I know several writers who find a group very beneficials. I tend to stay with a select few, but if a group works best for you...then go for it.

Kathleen said...

Thank you for the info, Leanne. It's worth the effort to work towards inproving one's craft.

Author Leanne Dyck said...

Yes, Maureen, I agree it's very important to find what works for you. I appreciate my group for many reasons not least of which is an opportunity to socialize with like-minded people.

Author Leanne Dyck said...

Thank you for your comment, Kathleen. I agree.