Our April monthly meeting focused on critique partnerships. Bradley Wilson, from Yellow Bird Editor, taught us how to apply the Golden Rule to such partnerships. "Critique unto others as you would have them critique unto you."
First off, you need to begin with yourself by being the ideal critique partner. Then, be sure to evaluate what you want out of a partnership so you can find a group that's the right fit for your writing goals. When you find a group, a good way to measure if it's working for you is to evaluate if you're getting as much benefit as you're giving. Also, a critique partnership has a better chance of success when there are rules in place so everyone involved has the same expectations and guidelines to follow.
When your work is being critiqued, keep an open mind, but remember they're only opinions. Say thank you and resist the urge to defend your work. Take notes and pay special attention to any feeedback where there is a consensus within the group.
When you're the one giving a critique the most important thing to remember is not what you say, but how you say it. Start with something positive and when you have a comment that would be considered negative, critque the creation and not the creator. Be specific and constructive and don't try to sound like an authority. Last of all, stay on a time schedule so each critquer has the same amount of time to get feedback.
Finding an effective critique partnership can have a big impact on your writing. We all need the perspective of other writers to help us see what's working and what's not. It's also a great place to gain moral support from people who know what it's like to bring to life the story that's inside your head. It's well worth the effort to find a critque partnership that's right for you.
To get you started, here's a link to Austin's SCBWI critque page. That's where you'll find more information about open critique groups, the critique partner registry, and SCBWI discussion boards.
Thank you Bradley for your insightful presentation!