Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Critique Group Questionaire

Choosing a critique group is not something you should do lightly. Everyone has a differently style and different needs. It's important that you choose a group that works well for you. It is only by trial and error that my critique sisters and I have found one another. It occurred to me that there should be an easier way. From that realization came the critique group questionnaire. These are things you need to know about your fellow critiquers so you may understand one another's needs and expectations better and can get more out of your sessions.

1) What type of critiques do you give?
    A. Honest, no holds barred
    B. Constructive criticism, pointing out both good and bad
    C. Praise only
2) What type of critique are you prepared to accept (be totally honest)?
    A. Honest, no holds barred
    B. Constructive criticism, pointing out both good and bad
    C. Praise only
3) Will you be bringing a completed first draft to the sessions or is it a work in progress?
4) Are you comfortable critiquing works in genres other than your own?
5) Are you comfortable receiving critiques from writers who write genres other than your own?
6) What would you most like help with from the group?
    A. Story structure, character development, flow, voice
    B. Grammar, basic sentence structure help, spelling
    C. All of the above
7) What types of books do you read on a recreational basis?
8) What books on the craft of writing have you read?
9) Do you/have you attended conferences, workshops, or writer's retreats?
10) How would you like to exchange material?
     A. email
     B. In person
     C. Through snail mail
11) How often are you prepared to critique and how much at a time?
12) How much of your work do you want critiqued?
      A. Entire novel
      B. Select chapters
      C. Select pages
13) Please suggest a plan for exchanging critiques.
This list should help you not only choose those you will work best with, but it should also help get you started with a critiquing plan. Best of luck creating and maintaining your critique groups!


  1. Great list! I'm in a small group that's recently come together. We're a no holes barred group that's working. We think it's best to go through the problem than meander around it.

  2. Kittie, that's excellent! This might be a good tool for you to use for anyone who wants to join later. Sounds like you peeps are on the right track!

  3. These are excellent guidelines, Heather! As we found out through trial and error, so much depends on style of communication and how well personalities mesh. Being honest up front about what you're looking for in critique partners can save a lot of time and agony.

    What I love about you and Karlene both is your ability to enter the story when you listen, and to envision how and why things are working in the writing, or not. I'd put us in the 'supportive' category, since we're definitely not about tearing anyone down, but that doesn't mean we don't say when something doesn't make sense or sound as good as it could. We just always make an effort to offer constructive support in the process. Can't wait 'til our next session in a couple of weeks!!

  4. Thanks Linda! Unfortunately it does take a bit of trial and error. But it was worth it to end up with you wonderful ladies! Hopefully this list will help others avoid some of the 'error' portion! Yay, come on April!

  5. This is an awesome list, Heather. You are going to help so many future groups with this post...

    I was fortunate to get into a group after ABNA 2010. Out of the six people I found two AMAZING crit partners and now since I have been blogging, I have met two others who are also incredible.

    I can't say it enough.... I just love this community.


  6. Heather, this is a great list! I think anyone could use it to interview and find a great group. I personally love the dialogue and figuring out why people think the way they do, and where the suggestions come from. Wouldn't it be great to have the ability to ask an agent why they said what they did? That's my style for sure. But, once I was told that when you get a critique you're suppose to say thank you, and not discuss. That type I would never want to be part of.

    I think you can be honest in critique groups when everyone is there for the purpose to help everyone create a great product. Then, all discussion comes from a good place.

    Thank you for providing this list!

  7. That list was great!! My critique group from last year (it was formal, now it's much less so) all knew each other a little bit and that helped a lot. I can be absolutely brutal in my critiques (not mean, just really nitpicky - all meant to help, of course) and you need to know that about me if you want me to read anything. (just as Michael di Gesu!! but in the end, I think he learned to love me, hehe)

  8. Michael, thank you so much! I hope it does help others. That's fantastic that you found your crit group from ABNA last year. I love that!

    Karlene, I could never be part of a silent crit group either! Which is probably part of why we work so well together. Discussion is the fun part!

    Erica, excellent point! The more we know about each other's style and expectations the easier the transition with be, and the more we'll all benefit. How could they not love you?! ;)

  9. A great list, for sure! Critiques come in so many different forms, it's great to have a guideline of what you provide and what you expect.


  10. LB, thank you! I've found that guidelines can save a lot of heartache in the future. ;)

  11. What a great guideline! I have booked marked this page and will have to come back. I'd love to find a critique group but with work and everything else it's hard enough to just find the time to write!
    Thank you