Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Tales of an Unpublished Writer: Are Critique Groups Your Thing?

About 5 (maybe 4?) years ago, I decided to enter a Mills & Boon writing contest. While waiting for the results of the contest, a few crazy girls started a conversation on the contest boards (me included) and we decided to form a group.  We were all working toward one goal – to be published by Mills and Boon/Harlequin.

 To be honest, I think we decided it would be best to take our conversation off the M&B boards before we got into trouble.

 We started out as the MH Mavens for our love of the long gone Modern Heat line.  A few months later, we changed our name to Seven Sassy Sisters, added a new member and started a blog.

 I’m sure there are other groups who’ve been out there longer (The Plot Monkeys) and there are others that started out the same time (Minxes of Romance). But, this blog is to address those considering forming a group or wondering if a critique group is right for them.
 Here are some things to consider:
It doesn’t matter when you start the group or if you even start a group. The Hot Pink Typewriter Blog just started less than two weeks ago. I’m not sure if they’re a critique group but it includes writers of all stages. If you decide sharing your work with others isn’t for you, then consider joining a group once you’re established.

 A critique group is more than just critiquing. Yes, the Sassy Sisters do review each other’s manuscripts but, more than that, we are there for each other. We are there when someone’s child or spouse is sick. We’ve supported each other through every rejection and long, ungodly wait.

 You learn from others. If you want to be published, then you also need to learn. You learn about the process (three sets of revisions on a full? Why yes, that’s normal).  You learn about the industry. You learn from each other.

 It’s not a ‘you didn’t critique my work, so I’m not going to critique yours’ kind of thing. If you’re in a good critique group, there should be consideration for schedules. Everyone works at a different pace. And as each member becomes published, needs will be different.

I don't know where I'd be without the Sassy Sisters or my local WRW critique group. They are the best, bar none.

 So, does anyone have thoughts on critique groups?
 Abbi J   

Where is Abbi? When she's not writing, working as an RN or corralling 2 young boys, you can find her on Twitter (@abbi_cantrell). She blogs with her critique group, The Seven Sassy Sisters and is founder of a website honoring nurses who write, .


  1. Laura Bradford for Bradford Literary is offering some great advice on critique groups and beta readers on Twitter. Follow #betacrit

  2. Great post, Abbi, and thanks for mentioning The Hot Pink Typewriter! We're not a structured critique group, though we do pass around a manuscript every now and then. Good beta readers are worth their weight in gold. :-)