We all have them—critique group horror stories. Maybe someone lambasted you for your political point of view instead of critiquing your novel about a politician. Perhaps a critique group colleague told you that you’ll never amount to much as a writer. Or maybe you just did not get any helpful information from the critique. I’ve been in several critique groups over the years. Some have rocked. Others, well, not so much. Mostly, I am grateful for the friendships that developed out of those groups. Maybe my experience would have been different if I’d had a copy of Becky Levine’s wonderful book, The Writing and Critique Group Survival Guide.
Levine’s book will guide you through every step of the critique group process—from starting a group to troubleshooting group problems. Because Levine devotes careful attention to the the basics of joining or starting a group, most of us will be able to avoid the challenging situations I describe above. Yea! In the book, Levine meticulously covers the critique process for multiple genres. She offers bulleted lists that help the reader recognize and analyze the weak spots of just about any type of writing project. Levine teaches the reader how to recognize both good and not-so-good writing by critiquing writing samples. Readers learn how to better critique both their own work and the writing of their peers. In addition, Levine offers ideas and structure for doing the other things that critique groups do—brainstorm, critique for submission, and help each other network and promote. Throughout the book, you will find worksheets to guide you through joining a group and critiquing a manuscript.