One Approach to Critiquing

The Writers on the Journey critique group first formed in April 2006.  Back then, the group consisted of five aspiring authors: Margaret, Fran, Susan, Nannette, and me.  We met at one of Charlotte Cook’s creative writing workshops (Charlotte’s website) and struck up a friendship. Once the class ended, Fran and Margaret proposed that we continue to meet to encourage one another in our writing.

Over the years, the composition of the group has changed as former members left to pursue other goals and new members joined.  If you’ve read our bio pages, you’ll see that we’re a fairly diverse group.  You can’t pigeonhole us by genre, manuscript length, or audience.  In spite of our many differences, we all share at least one common experience.  We’ve all been students of Charlotte’s workshops, and her critiquing philosophy informs our meetings.

Submissions for critique are distributed or emailed ahead of time to give everyone ample time to read.  We read each submission beforehand and come prepared for discussion. We begin by reading excerpts that we particularly liked and thought were well-written.  The critique continues with a discussion of story, arc, and what works in the manuscript.  We follow that with offerings, noting passages that were confusing and giving suggestions for improvement.  Our goal is a balance of honest praise and constructive criticism, acknowledging strengths while encouraging growth.  With each revision, we hope to be one step closer to a polished manuscript and one manuscript closer to becoming better writers.

— Cheryl


5 Responses to One Approach to Critiquing

  1. David George says:

    My first thought, was: Wow, you have encapsulated our critiquing sessions beautifully. But then I asked myself: “Me, why have we been on this journey for so long and still the world has not exhibited its (their) desire to read our pieces?

    Could it be that the World (emphasis on the capitalized double-you) is self-interested in their:

    a) Livelihood
    b) Friends
    c) Family
    d) Personal self-interests, which include sexuality, spirituality, banality, and causality, in that order?

    What perplexes me is why our BLOG’s are not being picked up (an commented upon) by the rest of the known world. Some of our comments are benign, but others deserve feedback. Hey, are you OUT THERE? If so, please set your personal (see above) interests aside for just a few moments and comments upon our posts. If you have nothing to contribute, then Have a Good Life. Otherwise, we are interested to hear from you!

    – David G.

    • chs says:

      Psst! We don’t get many comments yet, because most folks don’t know we’re here. As Jill said below, the best way to get visitors to our site is to spread the word.

      Some easy ways to spread the word:
      (1) Tell your friends
      (2) Add a blog link to your email signature
      (3) A fellow CWC group blog posted their link on the BackFence and invited folks to check them out.
      (4) Be sure to add categories and tags to your posts. The search engine uses these to direct people to our site.

      We have been getting some traffic, but friends are most likely to leave comments.

  2. David’s reply got me thinking. How do we get readers to read our blog? So I googled “writer’s blogs.” One site listed Top 100 Creative Writer’s Blogs. The Top 100 blogs were catergorized by different subjects: Published and Aspiring Authors, Getting Published, Tips on Grammar, and where our blog would fit: Improving Your Craft. There were 13 blog sites listed in that arena. In an act of shameless self-promotion, I submitted a comment on that website about us.

    We did get public feedback on my book club piece for that very reason. I had emailed my book club about the post and sent them a link. Cheryl, I know you got feedback from a friend, as well. I think the bottom line is we need to get the word out there that we exist. Between Facebook and Twitter and all those other forms of communication, we have alot of competition.

    • chs says:

      Thanks for plugging us on that other site, Jill. That’s the spirit! If you comment on other blogs, people often return the favor or at least visit.

      I also told a few friends about our blog and posted a link. That’s how my friend found our site too.

  3. In a quest for more exposure, I have added a link to my Facebook page to our WOTJ blog. I would encourage those of you with Facebook accounts to do likewise.

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