One of the most common issues that writers run into is getting feedback. Getting a good critique can make the difference between a story that sits in a drawer (or a trunk) and a story that sells and finds itself a home. Of course, not all critique groups are created equal, so as a writer, it’s possible that you might need to try out several different groups before you find the one that works for you. So how can you go about doing that?
Join a local (or genre-specific) writing organization
In the Houston area, there is CLAW (Clear Lake Area Writers), HWG (Houston Writers Guild), and BAWL (Bay Area Writers League). A genre-specific group, SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) also has a local chapter that offers critique groups, as well as the local chapters of RWA (Romance Writers of America). All of these groups have meetings, and while you might not be able to fit into any of their critique groups, you may be able to find others at the meetings and critique groups they offer to work with you on your own schedule.
Find an online group
Groups like Critters and Critique Circle are larger groups that offer online critique groups. For some writers, the sheer size may be intimidating, but for others, the chance to get (and offer) that much feedback is a dream come true. Remember that you need to go with what works for you, and if you are not comfortable getting and giving critiques with people you’ll never meet – or most likely never meet – this may not be the option for you.
There are numerous writing groups on Meet-Up. Joining Meet-Up is free, and most groups make membership free, although some may charge fees in order to pay for the Meet-Up subscription. This is a great way to find a truly local group; there are several groups that are specific to north Houston or west Houston so that you won’t have far to travel!
Take a class
Taking a continuing education class in writing is another good way to find a critique group. You will also get feedback within the class itself, probably from both the teacher and the other students. It’s a great place to start, and the classes are generally reasonably priced and have experienced instructors who are there because they love writing and teaching.
Start your own
If you’re still stumped for a critique group, you can always start your own. Pick a night that you can meet and put up signs at your local library, coffee shop, or book shop. Other options for meeting places are restaurants that do not require a fee to reserve a space or community centers.
Critiquing is what can help make your writing go from good to great. Go out and find the group for you!