Thursday, October 31, 2013
The Magic of Critique
by Maggie Marr
The first critique group I attended was in *ahem cough* 1998. While I'd been a writer since 2nd grade (GBC Post 9/13). The idea of becoming a published writer didn't take hold until sometime after grad school. I knew I could write because I had these stories that dropped out of my head onto paper, all I had to do was sit down and listen to the stories. But listening and transcribing the stories was not then and is not now the same as crafting a book.
I needed a critique group.
When the student is ready, the teacher appears. Enter The Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Capital Hill Critique Group. The first and third Thursday for four years I printed up my ten pages and went. The group was a mixed bag. Some pedigreed writers (MFA), some blue collar writers, some mommy writers, some daddy writers, some white collar writers, some retired writers, some student writers and even (gasp!) published writers--but everyone was a writer and everyone (save one member) was a reader.
The first night was brutal. The first time you get critiqued is always brutal. I read my ten pages aloud to the group. When I finished there was silence. There is always silence but the first time you are critiqued it seems as though the silence is longer and louder. Even as I read the pages aloud, after listening to other critiques before mine that night, I could see where I wanted to edit, what I needed to change--even before my critique partners started the critique. That was magic.
They were gentle. They were kind. I went back.
I've now, 15 years later, written over one million words. I don't know the exact count although if I had a whole day and a calculator I could probably suss it out. I've been a member of two other critique groups. I was even a critique group trainer for the RWA WFA chapter. I believe in critique. I believe that writers help other writers to become better writers.
Again, because this line is important: I believe that writers help other writers to become better writers.
This is fundamental. This is a core belief for me. But the even bigger benefit, the unspoken truth about critique, the magic of critique, is that critique doesn't just help the critiquee with their writing, critiquing also helps the critiquer. I learned as much or more by critiquing other writers work as I did from receiving critiques of my work. That is one of the great beauties and the magic of critique. Of life really--by the act of giving you receive more than you ever gave.
Maggie Marr is the author of Hollywood Girls Club, Secrets of The Hollywood Girls Club and the soon to be released Hollywood Hit (Dec. 2013). She also wrote Courting Trouble and Can't Buy Me Love. The first book in her New Adult book series, Hard Glamour publishes January 2014. She is legal counsel for the Women's Fiction Writers Association and a member of RWA and LARA. She lives and works in Los Angeles. You can find her on Twitter and FB. Don't forget to enter to win a $100.00 gift card from Maggie! She's giving them away on 11/15 and 12/15. Enter here.