Friday, February 21, 2014

Group Power!

Get any collection of writers together and odds are someone's going to start talking about a writing or critique group. There's a reason for this--and not just because 'critique group' sounds prestigious and makes us feel good.

Critique groups (or partners) are, honestly, invaluable to the writing process. It's a rare author who can make it through the publishing process without help before the manuscript gets to an agent or editor. And, if you're lucky (like the three of us at Beyond the Trope), sometimes your critique partners can become good friends, too. Writing is a mostly solitary craft--we spend days working on our stories in solitude--but sometimes even we of the Order of Introverted Creators have to come out of our shells sometimes, and a critique group is a great way to do it.

For example, our critique group met last night and looked over a short story I'm going to submit to an anthology next week. While it's nerve-wracking and sometimes painful to put my work in front of others, I got some amazing feedback on aspects of the piece that I hadn't even considered. I'm not really sure there's anything more valuable than another set (or three) of eyes looking over your work.

And if you're one of those people who's afraid of other people stealing your work or leaking it or whatever, check out organizations like Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, which organizes several reputable critique groups of published and "pre-published" authors and maybe move onto your own from there.

Though, to be honest, unless you're plastering your work on the internet, odds are no one's going to run with it (all of us writers have our own work, after all). If you want to talk about plastering your work on all over the web, talk to Giles about his experiences with online feedback. I much prefer in-person critique groups, myself.

So, long story short--I highly recommend joining a critique group if you're a writer and haven't already. Take some time looking for one that jives well with you. You never know; you might wind up one day doing a podcast with the folks you meet in group!

 No, I'm not Edward Elric's long-lost cousin. I'm Beyond the Trope's own super cyborg halfling of sass and occasional good advice. Call me Emily, and you can find me at or in one of several different fantasy worlds I've created. Good luck finding the right one--I'm not even sure I know any more.


  1. My critique group is called Raintree Writers, and I don't know what I'd do without them (except maybe tear out all my hair in frustration). We enjoy a good mix of genres and personalities and critiquing styles, so there's never a dull moment.

    1. That's great, Patricia! Our group is all speculative fiction--which has its pros and cons. But it's really true--critique groups are amazingly helpful.