Have you joined a critique group? Are you even looking for one? The right critique group can bring out your strengths as a writer and help you grow. It’s true that your weak areas will be out in the open, but look at it this way—everyone’s in the same boat! As writers we all have strengths and weaknesses. We all need to grow in some way. Writers need to mentor and encourage one another. Don’t go it alone!
I’d like to tell you about the special critique group I belong to. We’ve called our group of eight writers, “Wordsmiths.”
A ruby, sapphire, opal or amethyst are lovely in a single setting ring, but together they compliment each other and help bring out the radiant individuality of each stone. I liken the writers in our critique group to a ring with assorted precious stones—a group of “Gems.”
These are our critique group “Gems”:
MARILYN (Aquamarine): Marilyn has lots of experience in writing great YA novels as well as magazine stories. She is the author of 31 books and recently signed several more contracts! Marilyn is our grammar and sentence structure expert, is an English teacher, and has her own editorial service. Marilyn, you are one of the nicest editors I’ve ever known. (o: Your warmth toward others andwillingness to help is one of your trademarks. Hug!
NANCY (Emerald): Nancy writes practically everything from spell-binding historical middle grade chapter books, to nonfiction and fiction magazine pieces. She writes poetry, mini-plays, rebuses, curriculum, and devotionals. Nancy is the author of over 75 books! She is an expert at market research and digging up accurate historical facts. Her wonderful editing and organizational skills are evident and help keep our group running smoothly. Nancy, you encourage us to grow and you keep us informed about new writing opportunities. You are our humble leader and a loving friend to each of us. Thank you!
MARJORIE (Diamond): Marjorie has written over 300 short stories for children’s magazines and newspaper kid-pages. Whew! Marjorie knows her stuff. She can write tight! She also writes wonderful middle grade chapter books. Marjorie has many talents, one being a knitting marvel. Her articles have appeared in knitting magazines and her finished pieces are incredible. Marjorie, you are a delight to know and your smile is contagious!
SHIRLEY (Yellow Topaz): Shirley writes retold Bible stories, Christian school curriculum, and non-fiction pieces for magazines. She also writes exciting you-are-there middle grade historical fiction, as well as devotional material for adults. She’s a natural. Shirley, you are known for your sweet, SWEET spirit. You are such an inspiration and encourager to all of us!
VERONICA (Amethyst): Veronica is our professional illustrator and designer. She is an absolute artist with words as well. Veronica writes non-fiction and really does her homework. She can envision illustrations as she writes, which adds to her creativity. This is helpful as she reads the manuscripts of others. Veronica, you have TWO wonderful gifts to share with us, and we are so glad to know you!
GLORIA (Zircon): Gloria is our writing comedian. You never want to have any liquid in your mouth when she shares one of her hysterical manuscripts! She writes picture books, poetry, drama, and magazine stories. Gloria, your Southern accent is music to our ears, and you liven up our group with creativity and humor. Gloria, you’re just plain talented and fun!
CATHERINE (Pearl): Catherine is amazing. Oh, how I wish I had Catherine’s brain! Her first non-fiction picture book was released recently! She writes cliff-hanger-hold-your-breath middle grade fiction, devotionals, and magazine pieces. Catherine is also an expert at doing research and so willing to help others. Catherine, thanks for your step-by-step instructions! You lift our spirits and we learn so much about good writing from you!
There’s one last member—Sheryl. That’s me, and I’m a Zircon. I write books for the educational market, fiction and non-fiction picture books, magazine stories, retold Bible stories, rebuses, poetry, and mini-plays. I’m working on a beginning chapter book—new territory in my writing journey. Looks like I’ve got a few experts around to help me!
During our meetings, I try to soak everything in from the experience and expertise of the seven “gems” around me— every one of them as special as the next.
If you belong to a critique group, you’ve probably realized that each member has something unique to offer. A different perspective. A creative idea. A thought provoking challenge. That ever-needed grammar help! I’ll say it again, every serious writer has strengths in one area or another. A good critique group can bring out those strengths—strengths that some of us never knew we had. Isn’t that what a critique group is supposed to do?
You may be lovely gem in a single setting. Yes, YOU! If so, I hope that you will seek out and find a critique group that will surround you with an assortment of precious stones. It will stretch you and help you grow as a writer. I’m so glad there was an empty setting waiting for me. What a stunning ring we’ve got!
Sheryl Ann Crawford