I get asked about critique groups all the time. I have my usual advice and links, but I've had some folks lately ask me about finding long-term, quality partners, not just places you can toss up your work and get quick feedback. Since this blog is read by lots of writers who might be in the same boat, I thought an open post to help you guys find each other was a good idea.
So I've started Janice Hardy's Critique Group Connection.
Just to be clear, I'm not personally critiquing anything in this group. This is for folks who are looking for critique partners or critique groups for more than just "I need some eyes on this before I submit it to an agent" type critiques. I'm solely a facilitator to help people connect without having to post their email addresses online, which some folks are hesitant to do.
How This Works
I've started a Yahoo group. If you'd like to join, simply email me at janice (@) janicehardy (dot) com and I'll send you an invite. Then you guys can start talking to each other and see who writes what and what everyone is looking for. This is all private and by invitation only, so random folks googling crit groups won't be barging in or anything.
Interested in Starting Your Own Group?
One of the tougher parts of creating critique groups (aside from finding people to join) is finding a place to host it. Unless everyone is local, there's no central place for people to share their work.
I've had great luck with Yahoo Groups for this. I've been in three different critique groups using this service, and it makes it a lot easier. You can invite folks to join, have a forum and a site to upload work and critiques, and email the group as a whole. Everything is private and you can control who joins.
Ideally, folks will join my group, hang out and meet compatible writers, then break off and form their own Yahoo group. It's easy peasy to create one, and people can even leave a description of their group on my site if they're looking for more members. Of course, they're free to meet up however works for them as well. Partners would just email each other, for example.
If you've never been in a critique group before, it's good to know that there are commitments to be made. Each group sets its own rules, but for a group to work and run well, people need to adhere to those rules. I've had groups that turned in X-words every X weeks for works in progress, and ones that did whole projects at once over a predetermined time frame depending on the size of the project (five days for short stories, three to five weeks on novels).
It's not a bad idea to think about what you want and how much time you can spend. A hard-core group that wants to submit a chapter a week won't work for someone who wants a once-a-month schedule. People looking for plotting and story development help want different things than writers looking to polish finished drafts.
Plus, quality critiques take time. For example, I spend one to two hours on the ones I do for Real Life Diagnostics, and anywhere between two and four hours on the 1000-word contest winners. Granted, I spend extra time because I'm doing more than just a basic critique, I'm teaching as well, but that should give you a rough idea of the time commitments involved. If it takes you an hour to critique a chapter, and your five-person group submits a chapter each every two weeks, that's ten hours a month for the group.
Going in prepared increases your chances of success.
So that's the deal. Anyone who'd like to find some fellow critiquers can let me know. With luck this will team up some good folks and help some writers. Worst case, I added yet another Yahoo group to my name (grin).