Tuesday, June 17, 2014

To Critique or Not to Critique

I follow Write Me a Book John’s blog. Yesterday he wrote about critique groups, so we at Martin Brown Publishers, LLC thought we would chime in with our take on this subject.

Our publisher, Robert, belonged to a critique group for many years. The one he joined did him no good. Yes he made some friends, a few of whom he still has today.  But friendship wasn’t the reason he attended. He recently told me the reason was needed someone to help him see things that he couldn’t see because he was too close to his writing. But that never happened.   

In my opinion some critique groups work, but most don’t work as well as they could. The ones that do work usually have a good mix of published and unpublished authors in attendance. Robert states his was a great mix of wanabees.  

Great critique groups also have participants writing in many genres.  His  was made up of children’s authors, a category in which he didn’t write.

The perfect critique group, in my opinion, would be one peopled by those who look for faults in substance rather than just grammar errors.  The perfect critique partner should be one that can tell you your work sucks and not be afraid you’ll get angry or cry. 

So I guess there aren’t many perfect critique groups or partners, are there? Most authors don’t want that kind of criticism.  In most cases, isn't that what’s needed. Novels and books must be read and thoroughly analyzed by someone who can spot structure problems and explain how to fix them. The unseasoned author should seek out this type of critique if he or she is going to move from writing awful stuff to writing something that has a chance of being successful in this very crowded marketplace.  It’s very rare that a beginner can write perfect prose. Even when beginners do understand the fundamentals, most still need a good critique partner.

The critique group Robert says he longed to was made up of nice people who always wanted to please. This is why no successful authors emerged from this group.

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