I had planned to blog today about the world’s first work of fantasy, but I didn’t quite finish reading it. (Oops.) Come back next week to find out what fantasy literature of 4,000 years ago was like.
Here, instead, is a partial list of criteria for determining whether you should consider leaving your critique group.
1. A dunce cap is awarded at the end of the critique session to the person whose chapter was that week’s worst.
2. Critiques sometimes start with “Even an idiot should know that . . . .”
3. Shouting is not only permitted but encouraged.
4. When the other critique group members finally find something to agree on, it’s that your work is beyond redemption and you’ll never be published.
5. Critique-ers believe they can help you most by rewriting your sentences in their own style.
6. Your critique group contains at least one of the following people:
- someone who thinks the genre you write in is stupid or silly
- someone who always writes brief, useless critiques but expects detailed comments on their own work (Note: A future blog entry will defend the use of “they” as a singular pronoun, so please save any outrage over my using it until then. Thank you.)
- someone who routinely marks out your correctly spelled words and correct grammar with thick red lines and substitutes mistakes
- someone who thinks it’s not nice to criticize and merely writes “great job!” on each chapter
- someone who writes comments lightly between lines in tiny script with a #3 pencil so that you have to search each apparently blank page with a magnifying glass
- someone who doesn’t understand the difference between “laughing with” and “laughing at”
- someone who believes there’s only one right method for writing a book—and it’s definitely not yours
8. Your mother belongs to your group and scolds anyone who points out a problem in your work.
9. The four-hour critique session consists of three-and-a-half hours of snacking and socializing and one-half hour of critiquing.
10. When you point out a subject-verb disagreement, someone asks, “What’s a verb?”
For some helpful hints on creating a good critique group, see this set of posts at the Writers' Group blog: http://writersgroupblog.blogspot.com/search/label/How%20we%20conduct%20our%20meetings