Jennifer went to her first critique session...
Last week I talked about a new critique group in which I was invited to participate. I went to the first meeting this past Friday. All I can say is my brain hurts!
I arrived at the house of the hostess, and was the first one there. She is the only member of the group whom I don’t know, so we had about five minutes to introduce ourselves before the other two women arrived. Once everyone arrived, we had dinner and schmoozed. We talked about the industry, our families and they also asked questions about me.
Then we moved onto the critique. During the week, everyone had emailed their 15-20 pages to each other and we’d all read and marked up the copies. The host gets critiqued first. The rules are that you critique as a reader, meaning you don’t know what’s going to happen in the book beyond the pages you’re currently reading. The person being critiqued doesn’t respond and all critiques have to be constructive and positively framed. We each took turns critiquing the work and there could be no interruptions from anyone else.
We critiqued two people, took a break for dessert, and critiqued the other two. I expected to be embarrassed, with three people telling me what was wrong with my story. It was so much better than that, though! There definitely are stronger writers in the group than I am, but everyone had interesting perspectives and very good suggestions. Everything was framed very kindly and no one was embarrassed. There were many good things pointed out as well.
I came home with pages and pages of suggestions, as well as many, many things that they liked. As I’ve been going through the suggestions, I agree with some and disagree with others. But the changes I’m making will make my story stronger and I can’t wait for the next time!