Critique Groups
Critique Groups

Critique Groups

Help Forming Critique Groups

There is no other kind. If it’s not gentle, it’s not critique; it’s just bullying.

Written Well Founding Member Adam Stemple, on gentle critique

A fundamental truth we at Written Well believe is that if you want to improve as an author, you need to know how to both receive and deliver critique. Having critical eyes on your manuscript early and often can make the difference between a story that soars — and sells! — and one that never gets off the ground. And reading others’ manuscripts often helps you as much as it helps them, as you often spot mistakes in their work you may have missed in your own.

At Written Well, we show how to start and run a critique group, how to set rules and standards for your group, and what to do if someone doesn’t stick to them. We teach you how to be a good member of a group, how to give advice that is pointed yet kind, because our philosophy is that if it’s not kind, it’s not critique; it’s just bullying.

Rules of Critique

Giving Critique
  • Start with something positive
  • Don’t obsess
  • Suggest, don’t instruct
  • End with something positive
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Receiving Critique
  • Listen
  • Don’t argue
  • Don’t explain
  • Say thank you at the end

Our instructors have been in dozens of groups, as leaders and members. From groups of friends who shared an interest in writing to invite-only pro groups whose members have more awards and accolades than fill the shoeboxes in Neil Gaiman’s attic. (Okay, maybe not that many, but at least a dozen major genre awards). We’ve worked with all kinds of authors in all different genres and we know what works and what’s harmful.

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