WRITING: Ode to my critique group

screen-shot-2017-01-21-at-1-44-09-pmToo many adverbs.

Telling instead of showing.

POV problem.


I can count on my eagle-eyed group of critique partners to point out my story’s flaws, mistakes and plain bad writing.

I got lucky when I signed up for an online critique group. I was ready to let someone else read my story but I never imagined how much good it would do my writing and the story I wanted to tell.

My WIP had been through the harsh but valuable criticism of a contest, two rewrites and a final burnishing (I thought.) Now, I decided I needed a group of writers to read my words and let me know what was wrong. Or right.

At that moment the Maryland Romance Writers announced a new critique group — all on line. Perfect! I thought.

And it has been. We live all over the state of Maryland. Some have published books. Others have manuscripts in a drawer. All of us are furiously scribbling the work of our dreams. Then every two weeks, we send in 15 pages, critique the rest of the group’s submissions before we meet via Skype the next week to chat about what we read. Sometimes we miss a deadline or a meeting, but overall it’s a pretty active group with a pretty demanding schedule. My group, we call ourselves the Revisionaries, has read almost all of my WIP since last summer.

They’ve offered valuable insights, helped me clear up muddy passages, and most of all shown me that I can write something that engages people, makes them fall in love, makes them cry, makes them laugh. What a huge gift they’ve given me and I hope I’ve done the same for them.

Here’s the part I didn’t expect. We became friends. We have an online gathering place at Slack.com — and it’s become a sort of Facebook for our group. I check on everybody every day. Because we come here to ask questions, offer advice, complain  about our non-writing lives, offer support.

I trust these women — they’re funny, smart and incredibly talented. And they’re honest, sensitive and thick skinned. That last trait is essential — sometimes a comment in the pages I return is downright cranky. On purpose. Because all of us are counting on the rest of us to help them craft the best book we can write. I think we’re doing that for each other.

And for that I thank them.



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