My thoughts today are on critique groups. I hope you're not groaning...it's not like I ONLY talk about critique groups...I have to admit I do talk about them a lot though. The reason they came to mind this week is we got a couple of newbies to our group this past month. It always makes us nervous when new people come on board because you never know how it's going to work out. Our group is pretty comfortable with each other and what we're writing now, and it takes time to get the newbies acquainted with our little quirks and habits.
One of our newbies wasn't sure she wanted to join. She liked the group and all, but she's not a fiction writer, and most of us are. She decided to go ahead and give it a try. It will be interesting to read her stuff and try and critique for her. The other one is going to fit right in, I think, though she's thinking she's already to submit and it will be interesting to see how the group likes her work.
But it was the comments of one of the newbies that made me think about diversity. She stated that she's worried how we'll view her work because we all write fiction and it's different. I don't see that as a negative. I think the more diverse a group is, the better the viewpoints. We know we aren't all going to agree with everything everyone writes. We are fortunate to have two males in our group, and the rest of us are glad they're there -- they let us know if we're being unrealistic with regards to things male. They let us know if things are too mushy, sappy or -- heaven forbid -- romantic. Grin.
A well rounded critique group is going to give the most honest feedback on a book than anything else. Sure, you are likely writing for a target audience, but wouldn't it be nice if someone who's looking for something new to read picked up your book and liked it? Isn't that what we're kind of looking for anyway?
So in your search for the perfect critique group, remember to look at the diversity of the group. Do they all write romance? Suspense? Mystery? Non-fiction? Are they all women? Are they open minded about reading something different?
Diversity has become sort of a swear word by political parties and government watchdogs. Saying we want diversity is like saying there can't be a majority of anything. In writing groups or critique groups, that is not the same meaning. Diversity helps with open mindedness and growth in skill. I believe most writers are open to diverse thoughts and opinions. It's one of the bylaws of our critique group -- while everyone gives their opinion on your work, it doesn't mean you have to follow it -- they are only suggestions after all and it's your story.
If you haven't found a critique group yet, you really need to get on it. It will only help you get better. Faster.