Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Writing Life: Raising the Bar

My critique group is experimenting with a new schedule. We previously had six members and met every two weeks. With three members submitting per meeting, each member waited four weeks before his next chance at feedback.

Now we're down to five members, and the majority voted to try submitting work for every meeting. Submissions can total up to 20 pages, bur no member is required to critique more than 15. Since we receive submissions a week ahead of time as e-mail attachments, and we use track changes to record our comments and suggestions, our verbal critiques at the meetings will focus mostly on plot, characters, timeline, etc. and will ignore copy editing notes.

That means we need to work steadily to make sure we have new material to submit for every meeting, and it means we always have four critiques to do prior to the meeting.

Although I'm not sure we're raising the bar in submission quality, we're certainly giving each other the incentive to increase the quantity. Deadlines are very effective for me, even the self-imposed kind, so I have high hopes this schedule will work like a kick in the rear end.

Goodness knows, I need one.

If you're a writer, do you belong to a critique group? If so, how often do you meet and how do you handle submissions?


lizy-expat-writer said...

I belong to this tiny group - or I thought it was tiny till I read your blog. There are 6 of us but not all turn up each time. Last Monday we were four. Each of us reads out what we've written, if we want to, and the others comment.

Lynn Proctor said...

no i don't belong to one---sounds like something i am not ready for haha

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I don't have a group, but it does sound great for motivation.

Alana said...

I was in a writers' group for many years...and then everyone else left town:) We met weekly and read aloud; there were about ten of us. Usually, it all worked out--not everyong wanted to read on a particular evening. Alex is right; it is great for motivation.

Jemi Fraser said...

I haven't met any other writers in person - I'd have to tell people I write for that to happen... :)

It sounds like you've got a great group though!

Susan said...

I belong to an online critique group. There are 9 of us (yes, it's unusually large, though everyone doesn't end up critiquing everyone else's submissions). We communicate mostly via Yahoo! group, though we have three online live chats per month (and usually average 6+ attendees per chat).

We're at different points in our publication schedules and/or writing, which is nice because we seldom have more than a few ready for critique at once. Typically, when someone has pages for review, they upload the material to the site and let the group know what kind of critique they're looking for (line edit, character/plot, beta read, etc). The people taking on the crit comment to let the group know, and then download and do the critiques.

So far, it works brilliantly. The group is very talented and supportive, and capable of some sterling - and honest - critiques.

The couple of times that we've had multiple long critiques come through simultaneously, the group has divided fairly naturally to make sure the work gets done and no one gets left out.

It's an unusual dynamic, but I'm so glad it works for us.

Margot Kinberg said...

Pat - I don't belong to a critque group, but I can see how it would motivate someone to set and keep a writing schedule. And the input one gets from other writers can be invaluable.