Finding a Critique Group

I’ve been asked a number of times how to find a critique group, so I thought I’d list some of the avenues I followed to find a critique group that works for me.

First, you need to have an open mind. A good friend of mine joined a mommies group after she had her first child, and she told me she was going to keep going “until I made one good friend.” I thought that was really smart. Often we join a group and, when it’s not immediately fulfilling, we stop going. My friend kept going until she had one good friend that she continued to see outside the group—mission accomplished.

After that, I think it’s a matter of trying multiple options. Here are some of the things I tried, which eventually led to my current critique group, which is everything I ever dreamed of in a critique group:

Online critique groups: There are many. One free one is Critique Circle, which allows you to critique others and receive feedback on your own work. You can also try places like The Writer’s Chatroom, an online writing community, which hosts author chats, workshops, and  also has discussion forums where you can find other writers who are looking for someone to critique their work (I am a moderator on this site. Everyone there is very helpful!)

NaNoWriMo: November is National Novel Writing Month, and the members of www.nanowrimo.org have all committed to writing a 50,000 word novel during the month of November. Once you sign up (it’s free, although donations are accepted and encouraged) you can join your local region and chat online with other people in your area. There are also many live and virtual “meet-ups” during the month—a great way to connect with other writers in your area.

National and regional writing organizations: I joined Sisters in Crime, a mystery-writing group, and the local chapter (Sisters in Crime New England). Sisters in Crime has a online chapter called the Guppies that is dedicated to getting its members published. Critique is a big part of their mission. If you are looking to publish in the mystery genre, I highly recommend them. Other genres have similar groups, so just join the group that fits you best.

Writing Conferences: I have gone to New England Crime Bake for the past few years and I have met many people who inspire me as a writer, but I also met one of my current critique group members there. I recommend volunteering at the conference you go to as it forces you to meet people and interact (especially helpful if you go alone.)

Local bookstores and libraries: Most local bookstores (even the big ones, like Barnes & Noble,) have a bulletin board or a newsletter that tells you if any writing groups meet there. You can also ask the staff if there is a writing group that meets there.

Local coffee shops: Like bookstores and libraries, most coffee shops have a bulletin board. Post something telling writers you are looking to form a critique group, or ask the staff if they know of any writing groups that meet there.

Lastly, keep that open mind and keep trying—all that time and energy seems well-spent once you have a critique group that helps you become a better writer.

Any other ideas for finding a critique group?

Diane MacKinnon, MD, Master Certified Life CoachDiane MacKinnon: wife, mother, writer, life coach, blogger, family physician. I’m working on my my novel and getting ready for NaNo. On the advice of my critique group, I’m currently going back and outlining my novel-in-progress to make the plotting better (and to make sure I have GMC in every scene!)

24 thoughts on “Finding a Critique Group

  1. Great advice. I was once a member of a writing group hosted online, but the administrator gave up on it after a few members dropped out. This was a let down because I thought the remaining members were very committed. I have two close friends who review my work but would like outside feedback and fresh thoughts for inspiration. Also, I like to offer critique. I will check out that writing group. Thanks for sharing.

    • Hi Kylie,
      Once I was a member of ongoing writing class and the teacher decided not to keep teaching the class, so a core group of us decided to keep going and critique each other. It worked out really well. As I’ve said above, I think it’s worth continuing to try to find people to critique your work–the time and energy involved is well worth it once you find your group.

      Good luck!

      Warmly,
      Diane

      • I’m so jealous of your experience. That sounds like a really neat network. I have my sister and one friend who edit my work for free. I have another friend who actually charges for editing services, though at a friend discount. I’ve recently found a beta reader. But I think it would be fun for more input during the drafting process.

      • Hi Kylie,
        I recommend trying some of the things I mentioned in the blog post. It’s worth it to find more people to read your work as it’s in progress. You critique them, they critique you–it’s a win-win.

        Good luck finding your group!

        Warmly,
        Diane

  2. I’ve taken a few MFA fiction writing classes at my local university. Some of us now meet outside of class to critique each others work. It’s an expensive solution but it was worth it for a bunch of reasons.

    • Hi lucaspatrickmiller,
      Whatever works! I, too, have gotten critique group members after taking a class with them. I’m glad you find the results worth it.

      Happy writing!

      Warmly,
      Diane

    • Hi Kendall,
      Yes, it’s tempting to leave your novel in a drawer, but giving it to other people to read is the way to get real about your writing and take it to the next level. You might not get over the fear, but do it anyway!!

      Best wishes!

      Warmly,
      Diane

    • Hi geralynwichers,
      That sounds like pure chance but it wasn’t because you had to actually talk about your writing and let people know you were looking for a critique group, yes? That alone takes courage. I’m glad you took the chance!

      Warmly,
      Diane

  3. Great tips! I’d also suggest taking a class. One of the best writing groups I was ever in arose out of a weekend fiction writing class I took. Once the class was over, a half-dozen or so of us formed a writing group and kept working together. It worked really well, because we already knew and trusted each other.

    • Hi littlehousebytheferry,
      I agree, I once belonged to a critique group for years that started out as a class. It was wonderful (and then I moved!) Best wishes to you and your writing group!

      Warmly,
      Diane

  4. Hi Diane, you’ve made some great suggestions here. Like Lucas and you, I found 3 of my group members through a class we took. The fourth person I met at a conference last year. It’s been awesome having a group!

    In fact, it’s been such a powerful experience for me that I actually started a site for this last year called Inked Voices to get more people involved in writing groups. Now I connect writers with groups –based on genre, or experience level or type of group they are interested in. Once we have found the right group, a writer can interact with her group online in one shared space with submissions, inline critique and discussions. We’re focused on building small, private groups (our largest writing group is maybe 15 people) and the idea is to make working in a group collaborative and organized.

    For people who are not interested in online, there can be some good MeetUp options depending on your focus and where you live. So lots of good opportunities to start sharing!

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