As many here know, a good critique group can be a writer’s best friend. They give us feedback, moral support, and camaraderie. I’ve belonged to several critique groups over the years. Some groups have been extremely helpful, others less so. Over time I’ve developed a few rules, which I apply only to myself. These self-imposed rules help me extract the most benefit from any type of critique group:
1. Gag Order Rule Number One. When hearing feedback during a critique, I may not interrupt the critique with long-winded explanations of why I wrote something the way I did.
It doesn’t matter why I wrote it that way. Someone is telling me it doesn’t work. I must accept it and move on.
2. The two-thirds validity rule.
If two-thirds of the group gives the same feedback, it’s probably a valid criticism. I must pay attention to it.
3. Apply feedback, improve. Rinse, repeat.
We all know people who get the same feedback from the critique group, month after month. And yet their writing samples consistently reflect the same issues, month after month. I don’t fret about these people. I just don’t want to become one of them.
4. Expect to hear about problems, not solutions.
Critique groups are going to tell me what’s not working on my pages. They usually won’t be able to explain how to to fix a writing problem, because very few people actually know how to fix problems. Fixing things is my job, not theirs.
5. Gag Order Rule Number Two. When I disagree with the feedback, I nod solemnly, pretend to make a note, and say nothing.
So these are just my rules that I use to keep me sane and productive in any type of critique group. Do you have any you can share?