Friday, June 23, 2006

Online crit groups

Carla has asked about online historical fiction critique groups. My experience of these is rather mixed. In the group I joined, there was a wide range of members, ranging from the fearsomely knowledgeable and skilful, to the those without a clue of how to critique. A few were really on the ball with their history. I don't mean specifically specialists in a particular era, but those who had a good understanding of the historical field, i.e. they were well read and knew how to research.

A few (often the same few who knew their history ...) were also extremely knowledgeable about the writing game, and knew how to really critique, getting to the heart of the matter. I don't doubt that those who critiqued without much skill were just honestly saying what they thought, but it became increasingly difficult to get anything from the experience.

In addition, I couldn't critique to the level that I wanted to. I think I improved by being in the group, but I felt I wasn't doing my best for people. Membership was useful in that I could observe the standard of other people's writing, who was writing to genre, etc., and where I was with my own writing.

I don't think I'd do it again, and instead would seek out a critique partner. Ideally CPs are someone with whom you build up a rapport and whose judgement you trust. They don't have to be writing the same era as you, but know what they're about on the history, writing and critique aspects. When I start writing regularly again, I think a CP would be my best option

It may be, that crit groups are something useful to do at some point, just for the heck of it :-) They generally have a limited membership (c20), and each member has to critique a number of other people's chapters after submitting their own. Here's a well run one:
Historical Fiction Critique Group - run by Anne Whitfield.


At 7:30 pm BST, Blogger Carla said...

Thanks for replying in such detail Alex. I love the little picture, byt the way. Where do you find them all?

At 7:59 pm BST, Blogger Alex Bordessa said...

I search on google images. There was a really rude one saying 'Critique this' with a raised finger. Tempting, but I thought is was more US than UK - if there'd been a Brit two fingers, I might have gone with it. However, it would have given the impression I was angry with the crits - not true. But I thought the dinosaur was much more appropriate :-)

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