Mar 1, 2011

TAG! You're It! - Tuesday

Welcome to  
TAG! You're It! - Tuesday
where I ask the questions and my guests answer them.  

But that's not all, my guest also gets to tag my next victim. 
This week, Jenn Wilks has been tagged . . .  
by last week's Jordan McCollum.

The Question:

I keep hearing how awesome your critique group is and I'm wondering what you think makes it such a success. What do you feel is the best part of an in person critique group and what is the worst? 

Jenn's Answer:

It's true - I have an amazing critique group, and I feel lucky to be a part of it.

Here are a few things I think are contributing factors to our success:

* The first and probably biggest thing that makes it work so well is that we send our pages to each other ahead of time. Reading the pages at the meeting and having to critique on the spot doesn't work for me at all. Every time something catches my attention that I want to mark, I miss the next section as the person reading keeps going along. It's really stressful for me, and I know that my comments aren't nearly as helpful. Reading the pages ahead of time gives us time to think about our comments, read the selection more than once, and pay closer attention to line editing.

* Another thing is that we all try to mix in positives along with the things we think need improvement. Sometimes it comes out a little strange, like when someone tells you dozens of things that are wrong with your work, and then follows it with something like, "But, really, on the whole, I love it!" LOL. We generally try to mix in the positives: marking places where something really worked, where we laughed, or a sentence or phrase that really stood out as being great writing.

* Chocolate! Having a treat, particularly of the chocolate variety, helps ease the pain of having your babies slashed before your eyes.

I'm sure there are others, but those are the biggest ones that come to mind. Now for the second half of your question, "What do you feel is the best part of an in person critique group and what is the worst?" (The pros far outweigh the cons, just so you know right up front.)


* The discussion part of the critique is by far the most helpful. Sometimes one of us will make a comment and another of us will jump in with an objection. We go back and forth for a while, and usually come to a far more helpful idea of how to fix it than either person's comments were on their own.

* We talk about more than just critiques. We get to connect with other authors, talk about our rejections and triumphs and everything else that goes along with writing, and just plain make friends.

* Chocolate! Sure, you could eat a treat while reading critiques on your computer, but somehow, it's just not as fun.


* It's hard to have your babies slashed before your eyes, chocolate or no. I've had to learn the art of nodding and saying, "Okay, good point," while holding back tears. Really, it's not usually that bad, but even when it's not, it hurts to have your writing brought down a notch.

* Scheduling can be difficult at times. Especially as peoples' schedules change over the years what with kids' activities, church callings, etc. It's worth it to work it out, though.

* Chocolate! I definitely didn't need more treats in my diet, and I'm sure my critique group has contributed to my waistline, but it's so totally worth it.

I hope that answered your questions. Thanks for having me!

All right, so since I've talked so much about my critique pals, I'm sure you're wondering who these amazing people are. So I'm going to tag my great friend Ali Cross for next week's Tag, You're It! Tuesday.

Ali Cross, 
TAG!  You're It!

Come back next Tuesday to see if Ali accepts the challenge and to see if you've been tagged.


  1. I love the idea of reading the pages in advance. I totally agree that it can be hard to keep up when we're hearing and reading the submissions for the first time!

  2. Great stuff. And you can't go wrong with chocolate!

  3. That's a great idea to send out the sections early, then you have time to talk about them in depth. I like the comment that your discussions take you to different places than the original differences of opinion would have, if not discussed face-to-face.

  4. I always love hearing about your critique group. It does sound really amazing. I'm glad it works so well for you guys.

  5. Sounds like a great group. I know my critique group has been esential to my writing.

  6. Great idea to read in advance. Glad to hear others confess they hold back tears! We're all human!

  7. LOL, ITA on the chocolate! Especially when there's enough for seconds. (which I totally take!)

    I'm with you Jenn on the learning the Art of the Nod. We used to do more defending of our work, I think, in the beginning. But that's never really very productive. Now I like how we've learned to "take it like a man" or, er, a writer. :)

    And sheesh! ME? Yikes! I'm scared but yes, willing. Ahhh!

  8. I can see that it would be better sending pages ahead of time. I used to belong to a live critique group where we'd just read aloud, cold turkey. Now, I do it all via online swapping, and I like that even better. Tho I do miss the real life connection. But online lets us do our critiques at our own leisure and time, and that works well with busy/differing schedules.

  9. Thanks for having me, Christine. It was fun! Can't wait to see what you throw at Ali next week. :o)