Thursday, November 10, 2005

Critique Group Size

Varian Johnson, author of Red Polka Dot In A World Full of Plaid, (who also has his first book signing tomorrow! YEA! GOOD LUCK!) posted a question in my comments section.

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Varian says:
Just curious...how "big" is too big for a critique group? Is there a magic number that works? Or, is there a good system to ensure that everyone doesn't submit something for critique at the same time?

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I've been wondering the same thing. Our critique group is rather new. This week was the first time we had four people attend! We got right down to business and spent what averaged to be 30 minutes on each manuscript. I found myself wondering how that will work if we ever have everyone there at once. At that rate, we'll need another two hours...and I know my brain shuts down waaayyy before 11:00.

Here's our format:

We meet once a month. Each person attending brings a manuscript copy for each person in the group. When it's your turn, you hand out your manuscripts. Then you read. The others take notes + = things you like, - = things that don't work for you, ? things you don't understand, and lots of little notes at the end and in the margin. When you've finished reading, you shut up. Each person makes their comments--no one interrupts or comments on the comments--until everyone has had a turn. Then, (this is really my favorite part) it somehow turns into a brainstorming session (when the need arises). We usually discuss/brainstorm any comments we think would make help the story. I'll explain these sorts of comments later. This week, some turned into mini lessons on craft. Very fun!

What are your thoughts? How big is too big to be effective?

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