By Cindy Ervin Huff @Cindyhuff11Huff
One of the best ways I’ve improved my writing over the years is in my critique groups. I’ve learned so much at writer’s conferences and writing craft books, but the application can be challenging. I don’t often see my writing mistakes. But having critique partners makes all the difference.
For a few years, I was part of three groups. Yep, that’s right, three different groups. Why? Because I wanted to be the best I could be. The more I critiqued others’ works, and they critiqued mine, the better I got creating my work. My writing muscle memory began functioning stronger in areas such as to show vs tell, catching POV mistakes and tightening sentences. to name a few. I’ve improved so much because of these awesome writers.
But not every group is right for everyone. Not all critique groups want to be published, they’re content patting each other on the back. Some are a group of negative nellies. You need to choose one that fits you worth a schedule that fits your lifestyle. Visiting a few different groups might help you decide where you feel the most comfortable.
Because I wanted to put my best work out there, I chose a traditional in person group with Word Weavers and an online Word Weavers group. Then I joined an ACFW group that works through email. Word Weavers insists on the sandwich method. Say positive things about the submission, point out areas that need improving and end with positive comments. Having people mark up your work can be daunting, but oh, the piece is so much better when you’re done adding those changes.
I sit down with the pages from my critique groups and correct what needs fixing then applying what I learned to pages that no one had seen yet,after fixing the piece I submitted, I’m able to see those same mistakes more clearly.
ACFW critique groups email their pieces to the members of their group. They have a time limit to finish their critiques and send them back to the individuals. They use track changes to give input on all the submissions. While Word Weavers is a once-a-month thing, ACFW is a bi-monthly submission. That keeps you on your toes. Like Word Weavers, ACFW is serious about helping writers improve and get published.Critique groups help writers get better and get published @Cindyhuff11Huff Click To Tweet
All three groups consist of writers from newbie to pro. I love that too. Newbies may not be able to give you specifics, but they can point out as a reader what doesn’t work for them. Their thoughts show when a reader might close my book and never finish it. That is great input. The more experienced writers point out the things I’m blind to. I’ve come to understand so much better how to create deep POV.
Word Weavers has the piece read out loud by someone other than the writer. Wow, the things one sees as others read that need fixing. And the Track changes from those in the ACFW group are so enlightening.
Wherever you are in your writing journey, work with a critique group. I’ve published five novels and have others on the way. I rarely miss critique meetings. Multi- published, award-winning bestselling authors still meet with their critique partners on the regular. They ask for help with scenes that aren’t working and willingly share their own knowledge with others.
Sharing our WIP only leads to a better story. Who doesn’t want that? Are you in a critique group?
Cindy Ervin Huff is an Award-winning author of Historical and Contemporary Romance. She loves infusing hope into her stories of broken people. She addicted to reading and chocolate. Her idea of a vacation is visiting historical sites and an ideal date with her hubby of almost fifty years would be the theater. Visit her website at www.cindyervinhuff.com, or Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or TikTok.