For example, the critique group I belong to decided that the pieces do not get read aloud. Each story, every essay... **they stand on their own, unable to benefit from the writer's inflection and expressive voice. After all, we figured, that's how a story will have to make its impact if it gets published---read by the reader, silently, in the
One problem that was solved easily by Lynn was this: how do we know for sure when everyone in the group is finished reading and scrawling out their comments? None of us wanted to jump the gun and begin too early...no one wanted to step on anyone's toes or appear too eager.
After jotting down our last suggestion, our last bit of praise, we'd give sneaky, side-glances at each other. Ooops, I don't want the rest of the WWWPs to think I have so little to offer that my critique offerings are meager...I'll make another short notation. Then we'd look around again at each other. Is she gazing up to consider how to word "Good grief, Sioux. This piece is a sure-cure for insomnia. You should patent it" or is she daydreaming about how sweet it'd be to steal Schmeagol the Cat and make him her own? You're not sure...
Lynn, Queen of Craft, took paint stir-sticks and decorated them. Now it's almost a joke..."Is your stick up?" if one of us is obviously finished but forgot to hold up their stick or stick their stick in-between the chair cushions.
Recently, Lynn upped herself and gave us each these wooden faces on a stick. We all said we'd decorate them but only over-achiever Linda (she was feeling high after receiving her 197th Chicken Soup acceptance letter) followed through. (I actually think she chained her cutie-patootie granddaughter Nicole to the kitchen table and made her color it, but the police have been out to her house to check it out...no evidence was found.)
On my next post, I will unveil my "Sioux-on-a-Stick" (not to be confused with the international sensation, Cathy-on-a-Stick).
What clever ways has your critique group found to work more effectively? What solutions have you found? Other writing groups are curious...
* There are inside-jokes our group tosses around that must remain secret. Jokes about frozen legs of lamb, a woodchipper, a nail gun, the benefits of having a personal trainer, how scary trips to South American countries can be...the list is endless.
** I slipped in as many ellipsis as I could, as I am trying to draft a story without a single ellipsis. My OEA support group (Over Ellipsis-er Anonymous) said it would be a step forward in my recovery...(Ooops.)