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Do you need a group that critiques? It’s one of the greatest things of value your writing group can do for you. However, how to do it can become a point of contention a recent example came about at one of our groups meetings. Due to conflicts with our meeting site we have one meeting time a month that is shortened. Because of this we set aside this meeting for critique. One person could submit four to five pages for that time. They read a page and the group offers their suggestions, calls attention to errors and helps in any way they can to help the writer improve.

To make the critique easier the pages have one inch margins, are double-spaced, there is a header with author name and page numbers and the lines are numbered. These may seem like simple things but the space to write comments and make changes is vital and the line numbers help the group follow the comments and suggestions from each other.

This method has worked well as having a group of five to ten looking at a writer’s pages brings forth some agreement and often disagreement. Giving the author a choice, should he go with one person’s suggestion, or another’s, or neither.

One thing we tell our writers is that the final choice is always theirs. Also we always do our best to be kind. Of course, being kind doesn’t mean not giving good helpful critique. When people come to our first meeting they are given member guidelines. These explain how we will critique. I also include some informative material that is definitive critique recommendations.

Another benefit of critique is not only for the person whose work is being critiqued but for those participating in it. Often the critic learns as much or more that can help them in their own writing.