Why My Critique Group Works

In case you didn’t know, I’m a freelance editor and a romantic suspense writer. While I’m great at my editorial job, I can’t see the flaws in my own work. Totally normal. But it still sucks. Why, why, why can’t I train my brain to find the issues in my manuscript? Because I’m too close to my story and characters. I know. I know.

Lucky for me, I have fantastic critique partners who pick apart my manuscript in a loving but honest way. I do the same for them, of course. But, I want to thank them for their support and all of the help they’ve given me. I’ve learned a lot from these girls and am still learning. They are freaking amazing!

Thank you, Pamela Kopfler and Sharon Wray. I lurv you guys!

I’m writing about my crit partners today because I wanted to touch on something I hear quite a bit when it comes to critique groups. A common recommendation for how to know what changes to make to your manuscript after receiving critiques is if more than one person makes the same suggestion, consider fixing the issue. But, if only one person flags something, it might be a personal preference on the critiquer’s part and not something you MUST change. This works well when you’re a part of a larger group. However, if you only have two critique partners, like I do, you might find this doesn’t apply to you.

It’s pretty rare that my critique partners flag the same issue. Does that mean my manuscript doesn’t need to be tweaked? Nope. Not at all. It means my CPs have different strengths and are able to see different issues. And I love it. This gives me the chance to see the manuscript through their eyes and decide for myself what I feel needs to be changed. Sometimes, I follow their suggestions to a tee. Other times, their comments will trigger something in me and I’ll come up with a different solution to correct the problem. And every once in a while, I don’t agree and don’t make a change, but that’s rare. I trust their opinions and often have aha moments when I read their critiques. This is why my critique group works for me.

Remove the emotion when you read the critique and ask yourself if your story would be better if you made the suggested changes. If you’re not sure, follow their recommendations and see for yourself. Is the scene stronger with the changes? If not, are there other changes you can make instead? Or was it truly better the way you had originally written the scene? Be honest. With yourself.

In the end, it’s your story and you have to do what you feel is right.

Substantive editing availability update: My next substantive editing slot is July 28. If you’re interested, contact me at labelle(at)labelleseditorialservices(dot)com.

Lynnette Labelle

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4 Responses to Why My Critique Group Works

  1. Sharon Wray says:

    Thank you, Lynnette, for your sweet words. I love how our critique groups works and how we each benefit from one another’s strengths. All I know is that without you, I’d have enough echoes to fill a canyon!

  2. Aw, shucks…You and Sharon are awesome!

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