Getting the Best out of a Critique Group

I get better with a little help from my friends.  

For the last couple of weeks, you may have noticed some repetition in the love stories. While the titles are the same, I assure you there are changes, thanks to my accountability writing team. 

After a summer apart, we joined at the new home of one, opened gifts from the others, and broke bread together.  

We also did the magnanimous work of writers (or editors), which is the purpose of our gatherings.  

Each month, Jen, Yeny, and I pass our writing projects out to the others to get advice on how to improve. Last month, I shared two love stories with them, and what you see in Love Letter #1 and #4 are the revisions. I hope you will glance at them even if you are not into romance. You will see what I mean when you read them.  

And stay tuned for another story on Tuesday, October 26, 2021.  

Writerly Tips: 

Here are a few words to writers who want to improve their craft–as I suspect, we all do. Several learned through critiques.  

  1. Stick to your voice and your style of writing. Do not mimic someone else’s style to gain attention. And do not allow others to force you into a box. Write with authenticity.  
  1. Do not plagiarize. It is not worth the shame, so always give credit to the original author. 
  1. Set the scene early and, if possible, use scenery as a character.  
  1. Be careful with prologues. Adding an introduction to a story after starting the story interrupts the whole story and confuses the reader. I made this mistake in the original Love Story #4. 
  1. Replace extraneous words like “could” and “would” for stronger verbs. 
  1. Avoid absolutes, like “all” or “everyone.” 
  1. Unless you are writing out instructions, remember to “show, don’t tell.” 
  1. Avoid head-hopping. Readers like to know who is narrating the story. Some manuscripts feel like you have hopped from one character to the other and then back again. There are several solutions, but two that come to mind are to 1. determine the POV (Point of View) or the narrator’s voice early on and stick with it, and 2. separate dialogue with paragraphs. When you become a seasoned author, like J.R.R. Tolkien and Virginia Woolf, you will know how to break these rules and still leave your readers satisfied.  
  1. Make your reader turn the page. Movement matters in writing, so remember to take your reader along for the ride. If you feel stuck, they will too. 
  1. Practice often. The path to improvement requires an investment of time utilizing the craft.  
  1. Have fun! If writing is a passion, then you should enjoy it. 

If you have any questions about or additions to this inexhaustive list of tips, do drop a line below.  

Next week, I hope to share my thoughts on how to start a writing critique group. Until then, happy reading and writing, 


Leave a Reply