Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Importance of Critique Groups

Last Read: Devon Monk's Magic on the Hunt Current Read: JD Robb's Indulgence in Death Planned Next Read: JD Robb's Treachery in Death At the Mid-Willamette Valley RWA meeting last Thursday evening, we had a critique group/brainstorming session. What a well of inspiration and energy! Some members brought pages of their latest work in progress to share, while others sought input on plot development. I asked for help from the group with defining a character's goal/motivation/conflict issues. In my mind, I have this really cool bad-guy character. But even though I know him in the present, I have had a difficult time parting the moth eaten curtains on his past so I can more clearly see where his future lies. It was so beneficial to 'air' this character, force myself to talk him out, out loud. As we spoke (they asked character-searching questions while I struggled to verbalize what I saw), I could see my character taking form. Suddenly, he wasn't quite so two-dimensional to me. And going through this process reminded me of a few simple things I could have already done (such as interviewing the character - well, duh!) that would have more clearly answered many of the questions surrounding this mysterious guy. I would like to thank the lovely ladies at last Thursday's meeting. Talking about this character really helped bring him into perspective for me. I feel reenergized and motivated to write - my fingers are begging to hit the keys. It was a privilege to be able to help you out with your own creative processes. Do you have a critique group or partner that you regularly seek out? If so, what type of relationship is it? Do you only share drafts, or do you help each other with brainstorming plot and character development? How often do you get together?

3 comments:

Genene Valleau said...

Hey, Dawn! Had a good time brainstorming your bad guy's past. Glad the session at the meeting was helpful.

As for critique groups--yes! I have been fortunate enough to be part of a small group of ladies for well over a decade. We generally share our work at the final draft stage, although if someone is "stuck," we know we can ask for ideas.

Since we live fairly close to each other, we get together about once a month or as we need to.

Paty Jager said...

HI Dawn, It sounds like the meeting was just what you needed. And the ladies of MWV are awesome for brainstorming with.

I've had various online CPs. Over the years as my writing has grown so has my need for different things from my CPs.

I still have online CPs one give me line edits and finds redundant wording the other finds where I can add more emotion or where the story needs beefed up.

Then for brainstorming I have a completely different writer friend who I run that by.

If you or anyone else is looking for an online critique partner, I've started a blog where I put three writers together to form a critique group. Just go to www.cpmatchmaker.blogspot.com read the info about being in a critique group and fill out the form.

Barbara Cool Lee said...

I'm so sorry I missed the last meeting. I really love the brainstorming ones. I not only wanted to talk about my own new WIP, but I always learn something from hearing how others work through their stories.

I have a couple of brainstorming people to bounce ideas off of, and a couple of beta readers. I don't have a formal critique group of any kind. I have found I have difficulty pulling my weight in them--I don't find it very easy to come up with useful critiques of others' works, so I'm reluctant to ask for others to spend their time on my work, since I feel I don't give "good value" in return. Something for me to work on in the future. My weakness in this area is really odd, because I used to proofread academic manuscripts for a living, but nonfiction and fiction are such different beasts....

I'm so glad you all were able to have a good brainstorming session at the meeting. I look forward to seeing you next month.