Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Steps to Make Your Writing Critique Group Successful

Tips for developing a healthy critique group.
by DiAnn Mills @DiAnnMills

Critique groups can help us define our manuscripts. But finding the personality and expertise with other writers can be like searching for a new doctor.

Successful writers want to develop new skills by learning from those who know the craft. Face to face meetings offer an opportunity for the writer to reach professional goals. Meeting with a select group of writers who share the same joys and challenges inspires us to continue toward our goals.

Find What Works Best for You
Not every group is a good fit. A writer seeks people who have the same or advanced skills. To some writers, a critique group who writes in the same genre is helpful. But all writers are readers and can offer valuable insight and feedback to our writing.

Critique groups that meet in person develop trust and share social time. Online critiquing helps battle the time crunch. I’ve done both and understand the advantages and—the disadvantages.

Establish a few ground rules with a potential critique group or partner so writers understand the expectations. Each member must be committed to the group and willing to give back.

Here are a few considerations:
  • Will you and your partner(s) meet online or in a physical place?
  • How many pages will be exchanged?
  • How many writers will be in the group?
  • Will the critiques be a content edit or line edit?
  • What will be the turnaround time?
  • How will you handle a critique partner who fails to submit her work on a consistent basis?
  • If a situation no longer works for whatever reason, graciously resign from your commitment. A sense of responsibility is not a reason to continue in a relationship that no longer has value.

The following guidelines will help ensure success for any critique group. Merely tweak the format that best suits the writers’ needs.
  • Determine how many writers in the group
  • Establish a meeting place
  • Establish manuscript format
    • 1 inch margins
    • Double Spacing
    • 12 point - Times New Roman or New Courier Font
    • Header with automatic page numbering         
    • Establish length of submitted manuscript
    • Automatically format the manuscript to number lines
  • Submit polished writing as though each member is an editor
  • Writer brings copies of manuscript for each participant
  • Someone other than the writer reads the work aloud
  • Writer is permitted a two minute introduction before work is read
  • Writer does't speak or defend during the reading
  • Each writer is given 15 minutes of critique time
  • It is inappropriate to interrupt the reader
  • Always thank the person who has given the critique
  • Don’t take suggestions personally
  • Ground rules for constructive criticism. 
    • Use the Oreo method. 
    • Begin with a compliment
    • Make appropriate suggestions 
    • Close the critique with encouragement 
    • Honesty is critical, but unkind remarks are forbidden 
    • Harshness does not make a better writer
    • Make specific suggestions (general comments do not help the writer)
    • Address punctuation, flow, content, and credibility
    • Critique according to writer’s ability/level of expertise
  • Each member of the group is responsible for adhering to guidelines
  • If a writer doesn’t submit her own writing, she shouldn’t critique another’s work

Enjoy the experience! This is a time to admire and respect your peers.

I treasure the friendship of my critique partners. We are like-minded people who are striving for our writing goals. What tips can you offer for a successful critique group?

Steps to Make Your #Writing Critique Group Successful - @DiAnnMills on @EdieMelson (Click to Tweet)

Helpful guidelines for an effective #writing critique group - @DiAnnMills (Click to Tweet)

DiAnn Mills is a bestselling author who believes her readers should expect an adventure. Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists; won two Christy Awards; and been finalists for the RITA, Daphne Du Maurier, Inspirational Readers’ Choice, and Carol award contests. Firewall, the first book in her Houston: FBI series, was listed by Library Journal as one of the best Christian Fiction books of 2014.

DiAnn is a founding board member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, Suspense Sister, and International Thriller Writers. She is co-director of The Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference and The Author Roadmap with social media specialist Edie Melson. She teaches writing workshops around the country.

DiAnn is very active online and would love to connect with readers on Facebook:, Twitter: or any of the social media platforms listed at

1 comment:

  1. Thank you DiAnn. A good reminder for what our groups should be like.