Are you in a critique group or do you have critique partners?
If you don’t, I strongly suggest you find one.
Why do you need a critique group/critique partners?
While it’s true that there are several published authors who don’t have critique groups or critique partners, there are far more who do.
Writers always can use feedback to help their writing be stronger. They can help you with punctuation or grammar errors, and can help you flag things like passive verbs, telling, backstory, etc.
If anything, critique partners help you catch inconsistencies in the story like your heroine’s eyes changing from blue in chapter two to green in chapter fifteen. Or having your hero sprain his ankle in chapter one and it miraculously heals by chapter three.
Critiquing other people’s manuscripts can also help you improve your writing skills. In pointing out weak writing in your critique partner’s work, you can also be aware of weak writing in your own.
You don’t have to worry about anyone stealing your work. According to copyright laws, copyright is in effect as soon as you type it into your computer, and anyone stealing anything is infringement of your copyright.
Accepting critiques can be hard. I won’t lie—I always wince before opening a critiqued Word document. But the end result always makes me so much more satisfied with my story, it’s worth the initial pain. (Kind of like exercise, you know?)
Where can I find a critique group?
If you’re a member of a writing organization, they usually have critique groups you can join, or a Critique Group coordinator you can email who will put you in an online/email critique group.
If you belong to American Christian Fiction Writers, they have online critique groups for members. You can find the Critique Group coordinator in the Member’s Only section of the ACFW website.
If you belong to Romance Writers of America, they have many chapters (both online and local) which often have critique groups. I believe there is also an online RWA chapter for critiquing, but don’t quote me on that.
You can also get critiques free by joining Writing.com. On this huge site, writers can read and critique stories, poems and articles, post their own pieces for critique, and connect with other writers from practically any genre. There are several tiers of membership, from the basic Free membership to a full Business membership. The site policies, the innovative Gift Points system and the examples of generous community members work to maintain an honest and encouraging critiquing environment. Because the membership is so large, writers get a wide variety of critiques from people who are truly interested in the genre of their piece, and all writers are encouraged to review others in kind. This site is mainstream, not Christian, so be aware of an article’s Content Rating (similar to a movie rating).
If you write romance, there’s a good (mainstream, not Christian) and FREE YahooGroup for critique run by Charlotte Dillon, RWCcritique. RWCcritique is purely novel chapter critiques--you critique two other writers’ chapters for every chapter you submit.
Faithwriters.com is a Christian writing website that also allows for critiquing. It’s a very friendly, helpful atmosphere, and I believe their forum discussion boards are still an active place (it was when I was more active on the website a few years ago). Like Writing.com, it has several tiers of members, including a free one.
I list a few other critique groups on my Writers Groups article here.