Crit Groups v. Beta Readers: What Works For You?


If you stopped by on Monday, you saw that I am making an effort to streamline a few things in my life to free up more time for both my writing and my family. This involved the tough decision for me to cut down to MWF blogging instead of five days a week.  It also put another issue in my cross hairs.


So for about a year, I've been a member of the super fabulous Rumored Romantics critique group. The small membership has shifted and changed, but every person I've gotten to know through it has been an amazing writer and a great friend. I credit the big shift of "luck" I've had with my writing over the past year--contest wins, requests, and now an agent--in large part to the things I've learned being a member of this group.

However, the way the group is structured, we do chapter by chapter critiques. You get one chapter of yours critted per week and you're responsible in turn to critique one chapter of someone else's. This is great for those who are writing as you get critted--meaning you write a chapter, put it up for crit, start writing the next chapter and so on.

I, unfortunately, don't work that way. I have to write a rough draft in isolation first. I can't be getting critiques on something I'm currently drafting--it screws with my process. I think Stephen King said in On Writing to write the first draft with the door shut--meaning only for yourself. Then once you're done, open the door and share it with others. I don't think that has to be everyone's process, but it's definitely mine.

So I write the whole draft, then I start subbing to the group. But the problem with that is--then it's going to take 4-6 months for the group to make it through the novel. I don't have the patience for that. When I'm done with a project, I want to sub like now.

So with this most recent project, I sought out beta readers and found people who could read my complete book and give me overall feedback within a few weeks. Then I revised and submitted. When Sara offered me representation, my crit group was only on my chapter 3.

Therefore, I made the decision yesterday to step out of my group. It makes me sad, but the structure of the group just doesn't work for my style. I think my ideal situation would be to have two beta readers I trust to work with on full manuscripts. However, I'll be forever indebted to those ladies for whipping me in to shape and teaching me so many things I had no clue about when I first joined.

So, the good news for you guys is that, if you think the structure would work for you (and it does work for many) and you want a group that will give you the level of detailed feedback writers yearn for, there is going to be a contest to fill my spot!

Lynnette Labelle will be announcing details in the next few weeks, but if you write romance or something with romantic elements (no YA), then start polishing the pages you'd want to submit for consideration. The ladies are fabulous--two contest winning divas and an author with a three book deal with Tor, so whoever fills the spot will be a lucky gal (or guy!).

Also, in unrelated news, I found out Exposure Therapy is a finalist in the San Francisco RWA's Heart to Heart contest!

Alright, so how do you prefer to get your work critiqued? Do you like having a crit group that can offer detailed line edits or do you prefer beta readers and global feedback? Do you get critted as you write or do you have to finish a project first?

**Today's Theme Song**
"My Way" - Limp Bizkit
(player in sidebar, take a listen)