11/16/07

Local vs Online Critique Groups

My MS is gradually approaching the point where I would like to share it with a critique group. However, my home is a thousand miles away from the epicenter of LDS publishing.

My question is this: Would I be better off meeting with a local critique group who may not be familiar with the church and the LDS market, or should I try and find an online group of other LDS writers to work with?

A local critique group will give you real-time feedback. You can ask questions and get answers immediately. You can hear the intonation they use when they make comments, see their facial expressions, hear them snicker in appropriate places (or not). That type of feedback is very valuable. While online groups can give you good feedback, you don't get to see or hear that immediate emotional reaction to your writing.

If you can find a local group without religious bias that is willing to work with you, that is your best bet. The fact that they may not be familiar with LDS culture is not necessarily a negative thing. If your writing is clear enough that non-LDS readers can understand the LDS concepts without feeling preached to, and they can relate to the universal human emotions and experiences that are also part of your story, then you've done some good work.

If, however, you can't find a group that is open to religious writing in general, and/or LDS writing in specific, then your only option is online. Which is not to say that online critique groups don't also provide a valuable service to the writer. They do. So don't feel bad if you can't find a local group.

5 comments:

~paulette said...

I'm involved with a writing-group who meets locally in Utah, but i live out of state. They hook up a live-camera for me online (using Skype) so i still feel like i'm there. When i do send them stuff over the internet to read, I often just get on the phone to talk about it. :) So, there's still lots of options for you. Best of luck.

A. Riley said...

I recently shared my manuscript with some friends -- target audience also to boot. :)

I loved being able to see them smile or laugh while reading.

I also shared a short story I wrote and one friend looked up and said "she thinks a lot of herself doesn't she?" (about the character). She read the next line, and then looked up again and "ohhh...." and smiled. I could tell that the effect I was going for was exactly what I got. Facial expressions can give lots of feedback.

Tristi Pinkston said...

One good thing about an online critique group is the fact that you can e-mail in your snippet and they can write their comments all over it, like a mini-edit. Those are valuable. It doesn't take the place of getting immediate emotional reaction, of course, but if online is your only resource, there are good things about it, such as not having to block out a specific period of time but reading it after the kids are in bed, etc.

Paul West said...

I've been working with on-line critique groups for years and have found them very satisfying. Like Tristi said, you can email, or submit a chapter, or whatever, on the critique forum, and get back some valuable comments as the participants tear it apart for you. It can be disheartening, but also encouraging.

I don't exactly write LDS literature, but more young adult literature with LDS values embedded between the lines. I've found most critiquers have pretty much the same values, or if they don't, they are open minded enough to accept them as your values and they usually don't mind reading about them as they critique your work.

I have to admit, I had to try out several on-line groups before I found one I was compatible with. I've grown a strong friendship with the group I'm with now, even though I've never met any of them in person.

If you go the on-line route, keep in mind that you need to be compatible with who you're working with. It may take joining and leaving several groups before you find one you feel comfortable with.

Janette Rallison said...

If you decide to do an online critique group you might want to check out ANWA (American Night Writers Association)It's a group of LDS women.