A read and critique gathering is a group of writers who do similar types of writing, who read something they have written, and then the group members comment on it. These comments can be good or totally miss the mark. They can evaluate the characterizations, the style of the writers, the logic of the action, or the believability of the piece. In short, they can be a reader’s view of the chapter or short story and what the individual thinks about it.
This type of evaluation is essential to any serious writer. We get so close to our own work, we often miss typos. We have a deep understanding of our characters, but don’t always get that understanding down on paper. We know the story so well, we may skip essentials the reader need to gain meaning.
To send out your manuscript to a publisher that no one but you, and maybe your spouse, had read is to invite a quick rejection with open arms. You are not writing your novel to please yourself, not if you want to sell it. You write to communicate some message to the reader, even if it’s only to entertain.
I always read my first chapter and then as many more chapters as I can to our San Diego Professional Writer’s Group. Yes, I have published novels (305 at this time and counting). I always get usable comments on my chapters. I don’t use everything that the readers suggest. It’s my story, not theirs, but if I’ve goofed somewhere and they catch it, I put the corrections in the manuscript the next morning.
In the best read and critique groups, the work is read out loud and the listeners take written notes. Then the comments come by going around the circle, letting each reader share his or her suggestions and evaluations.
One great part about this type of criticism is you may listen to other writer’s work. Then I realize that I sometimes make the same mistakes. I learn from the miscues and problems of other writers.
After going around and each member has made comments, the notes should be handed to the writer who can take them home. This gives me a chance to evaluate what the readers thought and figure out which comments I’ll apply, and which can be disregarded.
Does this type of criticism infringe on your talent or your ability to write? Absolutely not. It helps you to be a better writer by exposing what you’ve written to fellow writers.
Bottom line, don’t let your spouse be the only reader of your next novel or short story. Find a writing group that does read and critique and get on with more success in your writing career.