You'll know that in a previous post I have gotten a Critique/Editing group off the ground and we had our first meeting yesterday. I must interject here that it really was no big deal to organize and took only a couple of minutes each day to email the list serve ArtsNet or reply to participant emails. I took a look at people's availability and picked the best day. We did lose one possible member, but when availabilities are pretty common and one's schedule is always changing it comes down to who's going to be the most dedicated member?
We met and not only was everyone who promised to be there present, I think our group hit it off nicely. I know that some personalities will eventually rub us the wrong way when we get into the groove of editing, etc. but when it comes to being social, everyone's been amazing!
I've also finished reading everyone's work that they submitted and I've written my notes on them and highlighted what was fantastic, and let me tell you-there's a lot of highlighting! Everyone in our group is SUPER talented!
So, that being said. Those of you who do not believe in these groups- good for you. I do believe that writers should find and cultivate a close circle of peers for readership review and industry standards checking.
If you read a lot of long-standing authors, many have writers' groups or belong to them. Laurell K Hamilton, who appears regularly on my blog, has belonged to a writer's group called "the Alternate Historians" since the 80's, which is a pretty cool name, don't you think? I've even seen the acknowledgement for a group in one of Stephen King's novels.
While suggestions to alter manuscripts or other projects can be made from a person's personal or taste-related standpoint, there is often a pattern that can occur when someone is getting feedback. Our group talked a little bit about if more than two people have said it, it's worth considering because then you know it's not just a personal quirk of the critiquer. But, one thing we failed to mention-and is worth considering, isn't just the number of responses, it's the number of heads that nod. If a number (over two-as it is the magical number) are nodding at someone's comments or muttering "um-hm" while that critiquer is talking, it's also worth considering.
Sometimes something just doesn't work, so it's always worth considering someone's opinion but in the end if the manuscript takes off or flops, it's going to be a reflection of you-keep that in mind after the critiques when you've got the delete button under your finger.