What I tell people as they consider joining an online critique group


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IMG_E2351What I did, and what I tell people as they consider joining an online critique group, is this:

(First, join one. There are a few online ones that are good and cost nothing. try them out and see which group’s rules, schedule, etc., work for you.)


1. Read a story,

and whatever you don’t like try to not just point that out but point out a suggestion to fix it. Also, point out the things you liked and emphasize those. Then,

2. Look at other people who critiqued that story

and see who was pointing out things you didn’t catch and/or who thinks along the same lines as you. Then,

3. Read stories from those people.

If they are good writers, then actively go after them to work with you.

That’s what I did.
You are not trying to find somebody to be your friend (but making a friend is a nice plus), and you are not trying to find somebody who tells you you’re great when you’re not. You’re looking for somebody who could help you get to the next level and who you can help get to the next level.
You want to support and encourage each other through constructively working on each other’s stories to make them the best they can be with the goal of both of you shooting for Hemingway quality.
You may not get that good but if that’s your goal and you fall a little short you’ll be okay.
The people you’re going to reach out to are introverts as well, so there’s that. Some won’t respond. That’s okay. The ones that reply are the ones who are interested in improving. And once you establish rapport, and you honestly put real effort into making their story better, then they will do that for you most of the time. You will benefit both from improved writing and also improving your eye for finding ways to improve other’s stories – that you can use to improve your own stories.
How do you find a group that’s right for you?
Try them. Ask for referrals from writer friends, but try the groups yourself.
How do you avoid bad information and trolls?
You can’t. There is a lot of bad information out there, but when reading critiques of your story, you’ll get a feel for who is being
  • a jerk
  • passing along strict “rules of writing” that’s not relevant or helpful
  • helpful but self important
  • helpful without being self important
  • a good writer themselves
Look for that last bunch. They’re out there, and you’ll find them quickly if you look the way I instructed you to above.

Your writing will improve within a few weeks, and after a few months you’ll be surprised at how good a writer you are!

Published by Dan Alatorre AUTHOR

International bestselling author Dan Alatorre has 17 titles published in over a dozen languages. From Romance in Poggibonsi to action and adventure in the sci-fi thriller The Navigators, to comedies like Night Of The Colonoscopy: A Horror Story (Sort Of) and the heartwarming and humorous anecdotes about parenting in the popular Savvy Stories series, his knack for surprising audiences and making you laugh or cry - or hang onto the edge of your seat - has been enjoyed by audiences around the world. And you are guaranteed to get a page turner every time. “That’s my style,” Dan says. “Grab you on page one and then send you on a roller coaster ride, regardless of the story or genre.” Readers agree, making his string of #1 bestsellers popular across the globe. He will make you chuckle or shed tears, sometimes on the same page. His novels always contain twists and turns, and his nonfiction will stay in your heart forever. Dan resides in the Tampa area with his wife and daughter. You can find him blogging away almost every day on www.DanAlatorre or watch his hilarious YouTube show every week Writers Off Task With Friends. Dan’s marketing book 25 eBook Marketing Tips You Wish You Knew has been a valuable tool for new authors (it’s free if you subscribe to his newsletter) and his dedication to helping other authors is evident in his helpful blog.

2 thoughts on “What I tell people as they consider joining an online critique group

  1. Definitely, constructive criticism is a very useful learning tool, Dan. You are also right when you say that you can spot people you called trolls who are just being critical for the sake of it. With reviews you can often see this by looking at such people’s ratings of other books.

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