My 17 yo niece and I attended a meeting of an Indianapolis writer’s group last Thursday evening. Including us, there were eight in attendance. They reviewed the work of two writers who had submitted chapters earlier in the week. The most interesting thing was the different genres represented by those in attendance. No two people wrote in the same genre so I was curious how they could critique without having knowledge or some limited immersion in the genres they were critiquing.
What I discovered is that the critiques are not particularly in-depth – how can they be when they are reviewing only one or two chapters of a body of work? So they tended to be more surface critiques. Questions re choice of word or word usage, reordering of information and how it’s presented, striking information that could be incorporated elsewhere, and questions related to research that could be done to add realism.
They make a very big deal of not critiquing the person – no personal attacks – but sticking to the work. From my viewpoint, having only scanned the work and not reviewed it from the position of giving critique, it seemed to me that more in-depth critique would be a bit more helpful. Perhaps the purpose of the meeting is just to get another set of eyes on the page, so to speak, and to address surface issues while utilizing a one-on-one critique partner to go deeper. Many of the attendees emailed or handed over redlines to those having work critiqued so perhaps in the meetings they stick to the surface preferring to give more difficult critiques in private.
I’m hoping to go to another meeting this week to get a better idea. Being armed with having read the submissions, perhaps I’ll get more insight into the critiquing process and understand it more.
I highly recommend you seek out a writer’s group. It’s never a bad idea to have more eyes on the page and to get feedback on your work. As the writer, you get to choose what you take and what you leave.
Hope you are all well. My world is in chaos right now but I’m feeling pretty okay about that. From chaos comes insight and from insight new direction. Writing is going amazingly well. The characters I’m writing about right now are so compelling but they keep me up at night! Happy Giraffes! Belinda