Monday, March 01, 2010


By Ali Cross

Last week I had an epiphany during critique group. We take turns giving our comments on each piece of work, and in this particular instance I was the first one to share my notes on a friend's chapter.

As we made our way around the table, my thoughts about my friend's writing began to change. By the time the last person gave their opinion, I realized mine had completely changed. The other people critiquing had been right. Their thoughts gave me new insight into the work we were examining.

Critique groups are a wonderful tool to help a writer become their best, we all know this--or at least, we should. But up until that moment, I thought their purpose was to help us grammatically, to help our pacing, our character development, etc.

What I hadn't realized was that critique groups can also help us gain new perspective. They open our minds to new and different possibilities, they challenge us to think outside our own box.

As always, we have to take what others say about our work with a grain of salt--any changes we embrace have to be ones we know will improve our story. But, it is important for us to keep an open mind. You just never know when someone will say something about your writing that opens up a whole new world for you and really drives you to write your best.

Be ready for those moments because they’re golden and could really set the stage for your success.


Cindy (C.L.) Beck said...

Great point! Sometimes it takes a few minutes for us to wrap our heads around someone else's constructive criticism, and then we see that they're right.

Braden Bell said...

That is a lovely thought--with many possibilities for application in different contexts. I was thinking about a church meeting I was in the other day where something similar happened during the process of counseling.

Thanks for the thought.

By the way--is anyone who checks this blog looking for an online critique group? (I hope you all don't mind my asking that).

Pendragon said...

very well said! i love when crits come back more on the concept and story behind the words. i learn so much more than "you missed a comma" and it tells me that my readers are more involved and interested in what i've written :)

Pendragon said...

oh, and Braden, i don't know if you're asking because you have one that you're looking to expand, or you're because you're looking to join one, but there's a good online group at Google Groups called "Write With Me".

Crystal Cook said...

That's a very insightful way to look at critique groups. They scare me a little! Maybe because I'm so new at this, but I live in fear of someone saying "This is terrible! why are you writing at all?" Which I know is not likely to happen, critique groups are constructive right? And it helps us be better writers, I know, but still. . . I know I need to toughen up. But thanks for this, And Braden, I'm new to writing and have a few people I've started to critique with, but if you're looking for a critique group I'd be interested.

C. K. Bryant said...

You are so right, Ali. If it weren't for the critiques I've received on my work, I wouldn't be half the writer I am today.

L.T. Elliot said...

Brilliant insights, ali! I love those golden moments and I think that's one of my favorite parts of crit. group!