Critique groups, where writers hand each other their work to be critically read and written upon, are wonderful for writers. Over the years, I have read and marked up romances, poetry, adventure, memoirs, and other stuff that has expanded my horizons.
I have been in enough critique groups to love the huge helpful majority. Like the ladies who said about Holly (the superwoman) and Cal (the Batman type) that those two made a perfect couple (I cranked up the romance). Who liked when I gave Holly a larger, beaky nose (I was right to make Holly’s face not be Barbie). And who drew a smiley face when I had Holly say when a line of huge super-muscle men charged at her, “I hate football!” I cannot praise them enough.
And then there are the rare (thank god) members who were not helpful at all. One guy would write one word on my several pages of story. Really? He called himself a writer, it was his JOB to write more than ONE MEASLY WORD!!! Or the old woman writing stories about a serial murderer. She read my superheroine story and said she had nothing to relate to. Really? She can relate to a killer, but not to a hero? She also kept asking who was gonna draw my stuff. Plenty of older ladies have read my writing and given me great critiques, but this one shut her brain down every time she read the word “superhero” without a bunch of pretty pictures dancing on the page. Then there was the guy who wanted the entire group to read only his oh-so-brilliant writing, who would not even peek at anyone else’s writing, and who wondered why we did not all want him to succeed. Maybe because he didn’t care about anyone else?
When you are in a critique group, you read other writer’s work, you write critical comments on the work, and you helpfully share them. Critically read, critically write. Say what you like, say what you don’t like. It’s fun, it helps other writers, it helps you. To those few who refuse to do that job, form your own group.
You can call it the “Only my writing matters” group. It’ll be a small group, because it will always split into groups of one member each.
P.S. I need to get back into a critique group again. I miss it. I need it.