Aloha, sisters! I'm guest-posting for Nikki this week from my new home in La'ie, Hawaii, and I'm here to organize our Mormon Mommy Writers Critique Groups. We hope that many of you will sign up and participate. Being in a good critique group is an amazing way to improve your writing skills and to make new friends that can last through your writing career and through a lifetime. Here's how it's going to work:
I'll be assigning those who sign up into groups of three or four participants, with one person designated to be the group coordinator. Each member of the group will e-mail a chapter to the others in the group once a week, putting the chapter in the body of the e-mail. Then each member will read and reply to each e-mailed chapter with comments. The group coordinator will be responsible for initially contacting the group members and working out what day of the week the chapters should be sent out, and letting me know if any group members wish to retire so that I can add a new member to the group.
For those who have a full manuscript complete, I'll also be pairing up partners to do a one-time full manuscript swap. Full manuscript critiques won't be as detailed as the weekly chapter-by-chapter critiques, but on the other hand they give a valuable perspective on the whole work.
Before we begin, here are some guidelines for giving and taking critiques:
Guidelines for Giving Critiques:
1. Begin and end every critique with something positive. It is just as valuable to a writer to know what worked as to know what didn't work.
2. Tell the writer your honest reaction to the piece, then let the writer decide what might need to be changed. You don't need to make suggestions on how to fix things. Simply say how the piece made you feel, what it made you see, or think, or experience.
3. Give critiques with a gentle intent to help others grow as writers because you want them to write the most awesome books possible so that you can enjoy reading them!
Guidelines for Taking Critiques:
1. You signed up for a critique group because you want to become a better writer, and you can't do that unless you find out what you're doing wrong, so don't take it personally, get upset, or feel like giving up if others point out weaknesses.
2. As much as you may want to defend your writing or explain things that the person giving the critique didn't understand, simply thank them for sharing their reaction to your work and then take some time to consider what was said.
3. Be careful about making changes. Don't try to please everyone. Give yourself plenty of time to think before you revise based on a critique, and then only make the changes that feel right to you.
So, here's how to sign up:
Send an email to me (becka at byu dot net) with the following information:
1. Your name
2. Your level of writing experience
3. If you want to sign up for a weekly chapter exchange group
4. If you want to trade full manuscripts with a partner
5. If you are willing to be a weekly chapter exchange group coordinator
I'll start putting the first groups together next week, but I'll be happy to form additional groups as more people sign up. And if anyone wants to leave a critique group at any time, just let your coordinator know.
Once again, we hope these critique groups will be a great success. I look forward to hearing from you.
-Rebecca J. Carlson