Are Crit Groups Dying?

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  • #202033
    magicalbookworm
    Participant
    • Topics - 48
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    I’ve been wondering something for the past few months.

    Are critique groups dead?

    I’ve been looking to find another group, one that has a focused group of people that aim toward novels rather than a lot of short stories and haven’t found one that’s free.

    The one group I’ve been with for a while hardly has any posts anymore.

    Are writers not looking for crits from other writers anymore?

    Are they paying editors?

    Are they going to the sites that you have to pay money to use? (I’ve found two that cost 6-10$ a month on top of so many crits.)

    Is it something else altogether?

    I feel like I’m in limbo with my writing, waiting for feedback from a crit group or moving forward without it.

    #235847
    Magic Seeker
    Moderator
    • Topics - 80
    • Replies - 1,222

    I’ve wondered the same, myself. Even Roving Crits is painfully quiet.

    Happy writing,
    Deb Salisbury
    The Mantua-Maker, Quality Historical Sewing Patterns and Books
    www.mantua-maker.com

    The Art of the Hoop: 1860 - 1869, Dress, Sewing, and Clothing Care Advice
    https://www.mantua-maker.com/a---1860s-fashion.html

    Dead Wizard's Loot: Wizard Whitewing #1
    http://www.djsalisburybooks.com/Dead-Wizard-s-Loot.html

    #235860
    magicalbookworm
    Participant
    • Topics - 48
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    I am glad I am not alone. I haven’t joined Roving, because I only tend to write Novels and I hate posting chapter at a time to a roving board.

    #235848
    macaroni_thief
    Participant
    • Topics - 15
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    I think it’s more that keeping a solid critique group going on a regular basis can probably be a rough thing, seeing as people come and go, and real life intervenes. Especially for longer work like novels. While I was a part of the Novel Critique Group on the old FM site, I found that I wasn’t prolific enough to keep adding to the list. There weren’t enough novels to crit, and things kind of split up eventually during the move to the new site.

    I don’t think I’d ever pay to be part of a crit group…though that might be where others are heading.

    I’ve learned that while crits are very, very useful, that I’ve finally come to a place in my writing headspace where I feel confident enough to move on without them, and to have learned when to step back so I can see it with fresh(er) eyes. Still, I might freak out when the next novel is done and ready to go out into the world, then I might change my tune… ;)

    #235849
    MarFisk
    Moderator
    • Topics - 561
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    Post a request for novel exchange on the crit board and then point to it from main. Crit groups come and go unless they are social events, but all you need is one or two folks at the same stage as you are and you’ve got a group. Even if it doesn’t last, you’ll help each other get to the next level.

    She remakes mechanical devices, and he dreams of becoming a steamship captain in The Steamship Chronicles. Book 1 is free in eBook.
    https://margaretmcgaffeyfisk.com/the-steamship-chronicles/

    #235999
    Magic Seeker
    Moderator
    • Topics - 80
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    This is a good idea. We could do a single-novel-each crit group.

    Now I just need to finish editing my novel. :whistle:

    Happy writing,
    Deb Salisbury
    The Mantua-Maker, Quality Historical Sewing Patterns and Books
    www.mantua-maker.com

    The Art of the Hoop: 1860 - 1869, Dress, Sewing, and Clothing Care Advice
    https://www.mantua-maker.com/a---1860s-fashion.html

    Dead Wizard's Loot: Wizard Whitewing #1
    http://www.djsalisburybooks.com/Dead-Wizard-s-Loot.html

    #235850
    magicalbookworm
    Participant
    • Topics - 48
    • Replies - 336

    I’ve been with a lot of groups, none seem to stay together for longer than critting a few handful of chapters.

    The novel exchange idea is good, but The Novel Club that started that kind of exchange isn’t even up and running and how do you get a series critted when one really should/need to read book one first or book one two and three first?

    #236014
    macaroni_thief
    Participant
    • Topics - 15
    • Replies - 493

    When you post for the novel exchange you can mention that you have a three book series, and that you’d be willing to trade/exchange for three books from the same person as well. I hope you get a bite. I’m sure there are others looking for novel crits.

    #236036
    Black
    Participant
    • Topics - 3
    • Replies - 39

    I’ve been a part of a few crit groups with mixed results. In general I’ve participated in open and closed groups. The open groups had a large pool of people that was in a constant state of flux. There was a core group, but a constant stream of new people. Getting feedback was difficult because a lot of people wanted to throw their hat into the ring but were ‘too busy’ to give any in depth feedback.

    In the past I’ve preferred closed groups (invite only) because the people tend to be more invested and usually the genres align well so the feedback received is more relevant. The group seemed to stick around longer, but over the years the core members dropped off and internal drama cleared out the driving force that remained.

    Both were good for making some contacts and connections, but neither one really seemed to help much aside from being an extra bit of motivation to put words on paper (which was tremendous).

    #235851
    Gilroy
    Participant
    • Topics - 22
    • Replies - 144

    My difficulty that I’ve always run across is that the critique group has no real focus.

    What I mean is that the group has people who write both short and long fiction, news articles, and almost every genre under the sun. I had many frustrating moments trying to get critiques of a fantasy setting with obvious genre tropes from people who “couldn’t stand science fiction or fantasy.” (We had two of us in the group who read/wrote those genres.)

    Every time I’ve thought of creating my own group, I find almost no one about.

    So I feel your pain.

    #237198
    magicalbookworm
    Participant
    • Topics - 48
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    Black,
    Sounds about right. Mixed results for me too. I’m wondering if the paid groups are any better. I’ve been with Dreaming in Ink a crit group for over a year, but their group is slowly dying out too.

    I wonder if people are just paying editors now.

    #237242
    magicalbookworm
    Participant
    • Topics - 48
    • Replies - 336

    Gilroy,
    Very true, most people don’t want to start a huge crit project like a novel, even if you’re posting chapter at a time.

    I’ve created groups, here on this forum and off this form and you’re right. They never work out. I’m with Dreaming In Ink that’s been around for a long time, but they’re slowly losing members too. Or not find anyone to join them.

    #237248
    Black
    Participant
    • Topics - 3
    • Replies - 39

    The hard part is getting people who are invested. In a lot of cases, you’ll have people who are there simply for validation. They want to hear how awesome their idea is and when they receive any criticism (constructive or otherwise) tensions start and things fall apart.

    Of course then there’s real life that gets in the way. People start falling behind or simply lose interest. In general, it’s a lot easier to get involved with a short story/flash fiction group and keep your ‘big project’ in reserve until you find the right kind of group.

    I’ve noticed a lot of people tend to overlook it, which is a shame because it’s easy to develop and hone writing skills through such groups. Personally, I found that doing a lot of small, unrelated writing projects helps me be more productive. I wind up with more ideas for my novels and have a ton of material in reserve for other projects.

    #237411
    magicalbookworm
    Participant
    • Topics - 48
    • Replies - 336

    My problem is that I tend to stick to novels and write at least one short story a year for the fm anthology. so I’d need find a place that deals with novels thats a downfall for me right there.

    #235852
    sdurhamwriter
    Participant
    • Topics - 4
    • Replies - 30

    Oh this is such a timely thread. I’ve been pathetically inactive at Forward Motion for years, and recently felt the need to come back to the first online writer’s group that I joined over 5 years ago, a group that helped me in many ways, and was the foundation of my subsequent writing journey.

    In the beginning my participation in the FM private crit boards was spotty until I took the plunge and responded to a novel exchange post of another member. Let me tell you the exchange was both humbling and painful, primarily because my grasp of grammar and punctuation was sub par to that of my exchange partner. But we both had the same genre (paranormal romance) and she was able to look past my weaknesses and persevere. In the end I found her critique and suggestions invaluable with regard to the big picture of the novel and the story I was trying to write. And I believe, though her story was mechanically and grammatically correct, I was able to point out some character inconsistencies, plot problems, and other implausibilities within her story that helped her as well. So I think a novel exchange is an excellent idea for writers.

    Next, I went on to take Zette’s 2 year novel course where a large number of us started the course, but, life did get in the way, and over the months the number of participants dwindled, but despite this there was a camaraderie within the group, and good effort was made by all to comment on each other’s work, and to cheer each other on. I learned a lot from Zette’s class, and will forever be grateful that she is still offering it.

    A year ago I bit the bullet and joined RWA, and have learned a great deal about the romance genre in general from their boards and forums, and recently in the last couple of months joined a romance crit group (on yahoo) monitored by another RWA member.
    As someone said, being a closed group (but free) it is well structured, has strict rules on formatting and what the critique should include for a 5000 word piece. So maybe yahoo has other critique groups specific to fantasy, sci-fi, young adult and other genres of fiction. I have heard of a group for historical novels and crime and thrillers and I would think all these would be free if they are yahoo groups.

    Lastly I did finish that two year novel, and have shopped it around for over a year without much success other than a few nice rejections, so I did take it to the next level and hired an developmental editor to take a look at it. (Not cheap, but at this point I saw it as an investment.) I have done heavier revisions because of it and now I’m actually looking into self publishing.

    I’m one of those that believes if one door shuts, another one will open. Maybe it’s the same for critique groups. I still think FM is one of the best places to learn, and that’s why I guess I’ve come full circle. :)

    Cheers, Sara

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