Thursday, December 17, 2009


Happy belated WIP Wednesday (we'll call it Thought I posted this Yesterday Thursday).

Great night of writing...I locked myself in the bedroom and pounded out 2,000 words (plus about 100 words on a short story over lunch), which, after not writing a damn thing worth their collective electrons for over a week, felt nice. If I can do that a few more times before I go on vacation, plus spend some vacation days away from home at the library with headphones and blinders on, I may just finish this book by month end.

In the course of the day, I made bad things happen to good people, turned the tides of fortune toward the morally ambivalent, and sent something horrible toward the citizens of a small town in the Rocky Mountains. It's good to rule your own imaginary worlds, but not always good to be a member of one of them.
This puts me on schedule to do some short stories in January, and start edits thereafter.

Which raises a question I have of all of you:

Crit groups. I've never done one. I've done some one-off crits for friends, but I've never had my work gone over. Everything I've heard says it adds value, especially at my level.


Do you do them? If so, do you do them in person, or distant?

Stephen King (pause for angelic harmonies) says not to let anyone into your first draft, but let your trusted critics tear your second draft to shreds. Thoughts? Does anyone find value in crits on D1?


Aaron Polson said...

I belong to one group online (very small). That's it. I've tried some of the big ones (Critters, Hatrack, etc.), but there's a lot (read: shit-ton) of variability in the quality of comments you will receive.

I know there's a few local writing groups (Lawrence is an artsy-fartsy University town), but lots of quacks and hacks here, too.

Others may have more experience than me. I think the big key is learning to recognize what works and doesn't in general, then the crit group can help with the plot holes and blindspots you consistently miss. Take all advice (even this) with a grain of salt.

Jodi MacArthur said...

Yes, critiques are invaluable, but it's important to take them with a grain of salt and consider who the person is giving the crit. You want to listen to the folks who are walking the walk and not just talking the talk (and there's a lot of talkers out there!).

I've used in the past, and the tough love forum at

Both require name and password.

Happy to hear you are a happy writer. I took a novel break about a month or so ago to hit short stories. Now I'm ready to hit novel again.

How is yours coming along?


Jodi MacArthur said...

Ha, I just saw Aaron's comment. I totally agree. ;)

Jeremy D Brooks said...

Aaron: good advice. There's a local crit group nearby, but they specialize in "intermediate-level romance lit", so...maybe online is for me. Kaolin Fire recommended critters too.

Jodi: yeah, I learned that going to the local writer's meetups. there seems to be as much talking as writing, if not more. The writing is stop and go, just like any other time, I guess...if I can knock out 17k in the next 16 days, I will be very, very happy. I have a 10k short that's dying to come out of my little digits, too. How are you, seems like I've been seeing a lot of your shorts go up recently.

katey said...

Hooray for the morally ambivalent!

I have a small critique group-- and it's all people I either know from my fanfiction days or they know from theirs. The whole built in writer network thing in fandom is a huge bonus.

But there are, as Aaron says, quacks and hacks everywhere. So long as you have that discernment that allows you to tell who's really trying to help you find plot holes, character disconnects, and technical improvements-- and who ought to write their own damn book if they don't like your story, I think there's nothing better than a crit group. Or at the very least, a partner you can trust to be honest.

I do let people see my first drafts now and then, depending on if I already know the weak spots in it. If I do, I don't trouble anyone else. If I'm lost, I go to my most trusted beta readers immediately. Assuming they have time :D

Which is a really long winded way of saying I'd be lost without it. But I have no perspective when I put down the proverbial pen. Some, I hear, do.

Jamie Eyberg said...

I always enjoy the comments I get from my online critique group. They are very helpful and honest without being mean. I think finding an honest group is the hardest part.

Jeremy D Brooks said...

It sounds like the consensus is to find a good also sounds like I may be behind the curve on this. It never occurred to me to use them for short stories, which may be short-sighted on my behalf.

Natalie L. Sin said...

I belong to one group, but most stories don't wind up there. I say each author has to do what's right for them. For me, having someplace to test a troublesome story is great.

Robert said...

They can be helpful, up until a point. The challenge is finding a solid group of writers whose egos won't get in the way. Also, if it's a big group, the feedback can tend to get confusing. Eventually though, you want to find three or four people whose opinions you trust 100% and hopefully that's all you'll need.

wv: tating

Cate Gardner said...

I'm part of a small online critiquing group that I don't use as much as I should.

Anonymous said...

Ooh, I have a critique group post going up later this week! A good crit group will do wonders for you. A bad one will suck the life out of your writing. I've been in both. Groups are a lot like Cinderella's slipper in that you have to try them on until you find the right fit. But once you do? Never let them go. EVER.