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The Real Test

You know, I've mentioned the on-line critique group that I recently joined around here before, but I feel the need to talk about this a little.

I've always been a little leary of critique groups in general. One of the first things I learned about critiques of fiction is that ninety percent of the critique is about the person giving the critique, while maybe five percent is actually about your story. The trick is learning which five percent you should pay attention to.

Critique groups usually either turn into all out love-fests or vicious attack circles where frustrated writers destroy each others manuscripts in the mistaken thought that misery loves company. It's a very difficult thing to walk the path between support and effective critiques.

Well, we hit a home run with this group.

Support isn't an issue. Every single member (to my knowledge) has experienced not only a burst in writing productivity since joining the group, but has seen an increase in SUBMITTED manuscripts as well.

That's the key. Get it in the mail.

We're a closed group, and I think that as time goes by, it's going to get harder and harder to get into this critique group as the protection factor starts to kick in. I'm glad I was there from day one, that much is certain.

And yet, while we're turning into a very tight-knit support group, we're also producing very insightful critiques as a whole. No punches are being pulled. If something doesn't work, it gets chewed up. (This hasn't really happened yet, but it has more to do with the quality of the stories being critiqued than from anyone's reluctance to let loose on a flawed story.)

We bitch each other out when it's needed. We offer a hand up when it's needed.

Man, did we get lucky with this one.

Good luck finding your own group. I've got mine and I'm not sharing. Pttthhhhh!

Joseph Haines, signing off from The Edge of the Abyss.

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