Monday, January 6, 2014

Michelle Rabe – How to Find a Critique Buddy @michrabe

How to Find a Critique Buddy

There’s no one way to find a critique buddy. I found mine through a writing class at my local community college. We were all taking the class and at different times had been partnered in small groups and found that we liked working together. When the end of the semester came, we were talking and thought it would be good to continue meeting after class was over. The first break we had a few people who met every Friday, we exchanged work and supported one another through the time when we didn’t have the class to keep us writing. We went back to class the next semester and didn’t meet outside class except for having pizza as a group after class every week. Those pizza meetings were about having fun more than they were about writing.

During the second semester one of our group members told the whole class about this thing called National Novel Writing Month, also known as NANOWRIMO. We started meeting on Fridays to write and support one another. I think several of us completed the 50,000 word NANOWRIMO goal that year. Once that second semester was done our group was big, we had about 8-10 people meeting every week. We talked about writing and we exchanged work for feedback. At the time it was a lot of fun but looking back I think that the group may have been a little too big. There were personality conflicts and there were times when people got feedback but didn’t give any in return.

The group has gotten smaller but in a lot of ways it’s gotten better. We now spend time every week talking about writing. We discuss problems that we’re facing with our current works, sometimes we get good advice that we can use and at times we don’t. What we always get is a place where we can express our feelings of frustration or joy about what we do in a safe place. We know that the other writers in our group have been through the same things and won’t look down on or ridicule us for any problems that we might be having. It’s a support system for our art.

I can’t say how you should go about finding critique partners but I can tell you what qualities are important in those partners. They have to be honest, if they’re just going to sugar coat things, you won’t get feedback that will help you improve. They have to be tactful, if you get feedback that amounts to saying ‘this sucks’ you’re not going to hear what they’re saying. You’re going to get defensive even if they are right. They have to enjoy reading. In my group we have several different genres being written and while they’re not all my cup of tea but I enjoy reading so I can be objective about the work that’s being done. Most of all I think that a group has to be committed to writing. If you have people who aren’t serious they suck the energy from the group and can be disruptive. Now don’t get me wrong when I say that they have to be serious I don’t mean that everyone has to dream of being published or writing for a living. We have a couple members who just enjoy writing and are serious about getting their pieces finished right now, as far as I know, they aren’t looking at publishing. I’d say that a good feedback group is the most important thing that a beginning writer should have in their arsenal. They will push you, help you see the flaws in your work, help you improve, and support you through the tough times. I know mine has and I am eternally grateful to them for the part they played in bringing ‘Cast in Blood’ to publication.

Michelle Rabe

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Genre - Paranormal Urban Fantasy

Rating – PG-13

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