Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Critiquing a critique group

Over a year ago, I stepped away from a local SCBWI critique group I'd been part of for several years. There was nothing 'wrong' with the group or its members. They're all talented writers, working hard on their craft and focused on getting their WIPs in shape and ready for submission. But they were all working on picture books. I was working on a middle-grade novel.

So I set about creating a critique group focused on writing middle-grade novels. A month later, five of us, all avid readers and writers of literature for that age group, met virtually for the first time. After initial technical problems, we settled into a rhythm of monthly manuscript submissions and online critique of our middle-grade WIPs. The group seemed to be going well.

Six months later, one member withdrew. She found getting feedback early in the writing process derailed her vision for the piece. We all understood and wished her well. 

Last month, another member withdrew. Multiple demands in his work and personal life left him with little extra time and energy. Again, we all understood and wished him well. 

So the three of us who remain will decide the group's future. We've all been at this long enough to know that groups like this are malleable. They morph into what is needed by its members and are reshaped as members come and go. The three of us can tweak our guidelines and procedures or we can tear them up and start over. We can keep the group at just three members, or we can add another one or two. In any case, I look forward to the process of redefining ourselves and am excited about our future.  

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