Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Critique Partners: Internet vs. in Person

At my writer's group last Saturday, I read the first chapter of FierceI was pretty nervous because this book is still young and the idea is fragile. I hate to admit it, but I needed encouragement.

We discussed the premise and they actually got excited about it. They brought up the same concerns I've already heard, but there was one big difference.

There are many benefits to having online critique partners: there's a wider selection of readers to pick from, for example,  and they're easier to communicate with. 

But there's a big problem: it's hard to tell when your partner is sincere and when she's BSing.

In my writer's group, some of my ideas made my partner's faces light up while some made them scrunch their eyebrows together. People don't fake that.  

One person didn't get the chance to read the chapter, and someone whispered to him so that I wasn't meant to hear, "It was so good." That means more than an email filled with compliments because even if my internet critique partner feels the same way, she has no way of expressing it.

I've learned the value of always having people in my life who can talk to me about my writing face-to-face. I highly recommend finding a group in your area... if there's one in Starkville, Mississippi, there are groups everywhere.

By the way, my group met in the same bookstore where I made all those recommendation of authors I met at the HNS conference. Last Saturday, I checked to see if they were on the shelves. Not only had the owner bought everything I recommended, but Pope Joan had a prominent place on the wall of bestsellers. I felt proud.


  1. I had a very supportive writing group before moving back to Small Town, TX. There's probably a group here and I just need to find it. But you're right. Having critters can be nice but having them in your face gives you a chance to get the body language behind the words, something that is missed with internet critters.

    By the way, glad your group enjoyed the read, maybe not all of them, but that is the way it goes.

  2. Teralyn, did you find your group or did you start it? I am curious because I'm on a remote military post where they definitely do not have a writer group/club. I'm not above starting one, but I'd really have to research how to get started, which would be doubly hard because I'm already mortified that I'm even thinking ofwriting. Any tips?

    Glad that you're getting valuable feedback at your group.

  3. I'm also looking for a critique group to join in 2012. I've participated in Internet groups and Person groups and I prefer person groups for all the reasons you've mentioned. Good luck with your group.

  4. I enjoy the give-and-take conversation about our work and about the writing craft that happens with a live group. My online group is great in different ways, but I am a face-to-face kind of person.

  5. I've generally used online critique groups, but recently had my book group critique my book. It was just like you described - very helpful, yet in different ways. You've inspired me to look up a local group for 2012!

  6. Tiffany: I just saw a simple white, 8x11 piece of paper at a bookstore that said to meet upstairs at ten on Saturdays. I think people are so happy to meet other authors that they don't expect anything fancy.

    Our group leader is a college professor, so he usually has a structure for how we do things. Generally, people will bring their work or will have already emailed the others and we read it out loud and talk about it. We've discussed publishing, blogging, events in the area, Nano, whatever sparks our interest.

    I hope starting a group works out for you. Good luck!

  7. I generally use online critique groups/partners. Honesty is key though, isn't it?

    In 2012, I might try another in person critique group, but I've had not so great experiences with such things in the past. I will say that in my experience, face-to-face critiques are much more effective for keeping me on track and motivated when I'm feeling the urge to procrastinate.

    Great post, btw - I'm glad I found your blog!

  8. This is really encouraging for me because i am aiming to go to one or two conferences in 2012 and would love to join a writers group. I'd be so nervous to read my writing out, so it's good to know the experience can be good. I hope mine eventually is to :)

    Matt (Turndog Millionaire)

  9. Steven Whibley: I've also had not-so-great experiences with in-person critique groups, but I've had bad experiences online too. I hope you have better experiences in the future. I'm glad you found my blog too!

    Matt: If you're interested in conferences, I went to one and wrote a TON about it. If you want to read about it, click on "Downloadable Posts" in the right sidebar and you can download a pdf file.


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