Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Writers' Wednesday - Critiquing Critique Groups

Today on the Pink Heart Society, author 
Taryn Leigh Taylor shares her Top Three Reasons to Beware Critique Groups.

First of all, let me be clear. This article is not about scary, back-biting "critique groups" full of petty, jealous bullies who steal ideas and improve their self-esteem by knocking others down. 

This is about you and some serious, like-minded writing friends getting together to help one another improve as writers by engaging in open discussion and constructive criticism based on mutual trust and respect.

If your critique group falls into the former category, GET OUT NOW! 

If your critique group falls into the latter category, read on.

3 - Time Waits for No Woman

Sometimes when a group of like-minded individuals get together to discuss one another's works, and then someone has a question about one of their scenes, and that reminds someone else about a movie they saw starring Ryan Reynolds and the rest of the critique and brainstorming session is spent talking about what goes into making a swoon-worthy hero. 

Getting off-topic is always a danger and that can lead to hurt feelings if you run out of time before everyone gets their chance to offer up a scene.

Suggested solution: Take a good look at your meeting schedule and factor in time for catching up (especially if you only meet on a semi-regular basis). Then assign each person's scene a set block of time for discussion. Or maybe you'll find your group runs more smoothly if each person only gets critiqued ever second week so you have more discussion time. Find what works for your group and its numbers and make a schedule to ensure things run smoothly.

2 - The Road to Hell...

You know what they say about good intentions, and even the best, most supportive group of
friends can fall into this trap if they aren't careful. One trap that sometimes befalls even the best critique groups. The problem is that critiquing can sometimes make you, well, hyper-critical. You're trying so hard to help your partner improve that you start grasping at any little bumps and freckles to prove that you were paying attention and trying to help. The thing is, works without any personal touches--bumps and freckles--can end up bland.

Suggested Solution: Give the author the benefit of the doubt, as you would if you were reading an already published book. Just because someone says something differently than you would have said it, that doesn't make it wrong. In fact, unless the meaning is really muddled or grammatically incorrect, let it go. Stick to the important things and help your critique partners find inconsistencies, errors, and places to improve. And if you really love something, don't forget to mention that as well! In other words, edit, but don't nitpick.

1 - It's YOUR Story

Remember, when all critiquing is said and done, the book is yours. Listen to all suggestions with openness and receive it in the spirit of constructive feedback, but if you find yourself torn between your vision of the book and someone else's suggestion, it's probably best to follow your instincts and bet on yourself.

Suggested Solution: Remember that you are the only one who can write your novel. Trust yourself.

Criticism, even the loving kind, can be difficult to hear. I'd love if you'd share the best advice you ever got from a critique in the comments below!

Taryn's latest release, Playing to Win, is available in eformat from Harlequin Blaze.

Playing to win means playing dirty...

Holly Evans is intelligent, educated and crazy about sports--so how did she end up prancing about in a miniskirt and teasing her hair like some broadcasting bimbo? Of course, since she's already iced her journalistic integrity, Holly might as well indulge in a little fangirl lust for the ripped captain of Portland's hockey team.

Luke Maguire sees right through Holly's bunny disguise, and he's ready to pull her into the locker room and strip it all off. Then Holly discovers someone on the team is profiting from a little over/under betting. Suddenly her lusting for Luke is going head-to-head with her reporting instincts. And if she's caught offside, there's no telling what the penalty will be...

Taryn Leigh Taylor likes dinosaurs, bridges and space, both personal and of the final-frontier variety. She shamelessly indulges in cliches, most notably her Starbucks addiction, her shoe hoard and her penchant for falling in lust with fictional men with great abs. For more on Taryn, check out her website, or catch her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.


  1. Great article, Taryn! And your books are terrific so you're in the right group although I'm sure your talent would rise above everything.

    1. High praise from a USA Today reviewed author brimming with talent! :) Thanks, Carol! A good critique group is key to getting better, though. I definitely believe that!