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Critique Etiquette and Critics Marks

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From the pages of:


Novel Writing Made Simple

by Gordon A. Kessler


3.3 Critique Groups. A critique group can be one of the most beneficial or one of the most harmful things of which a writer can become a part. Critique groups held by a bunch of know-it-all amateurs can be the worst thing of all. This is especially true for the novice writer who knows no better than to trust the emphatic judgment of a group of wannabes who have just picked up on a key writing concept and now have made the strict obedience to this little writing notion into a personal crusade.

At the same time, belonging to an overly agreeable, always-be-nice-and-nurturing-even-if-you-have-to-lie group can be just as detrimental. 

The very best group of critics is made up of writers such as yourself, preferably who write in your genre. However, such a group might be hard to find. The leader of the group must be honest yet open to ideas, and none of the members should be overbearing and critique with a know-it-all-attitude. 

Generally, you’ll find that critique groups using an oral presentation method can be highly entertaining, especially when the reader has a dynamic voice. But this sort of presentation doesn’t lend itself well to readers who are less talented. Also, much can be missed during an oral presentation as the critics jot down notes in order to remember their comments at the end. And punctuation is, for the most part, impossible to be considered.

With a written presentation-that is, copies of the work in eight to sixteen page segments being emailed or passed out to all the critics prior to the meeting-submissions can be read in the same basic form that agents, editors and, ultimately, the consumer will read them. The critics have time to more carefully consider word choices, plotting, characterization, description, punctuation, etc. Then, during the critique session, comments can be made by the critics in turn as they proceed from page to page. 


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