Guest author: Darlene Foster – Ten Truths About Critique Groups and Why Writers Need Them

book-1014197__480Never underestimate the importance of a good critique group.  Without one, a writer may simply flounder in a sea of words and ideas. A critique group can make the difference between a mediocre story and an excellent piece of writing worthy of publication. Without the support of groups I’ve belonged to over the years, I would not have six books and several short stories published.

If you are wondering if you should join a critique group, here are ten things about critique groups you should know.

  1. Not all critique groups are created equal. You may have to try out a few to find one that works for you. The members need not write in the same genre as you, in fact it helps if there is a variety of writing being critiqued.
  2. Park your ego at the door. Although it is nice to hear what the members like about your writing, it´s the things they don´t like or find confusing that are the most beneficial to you.
  3. Remember the comments are suggestions, to use if you wish. But if you hear the same criticism more than once, it would serve you well to take notice.
  4. Never defend your work. The members may stop offering valuable suggestions if you do. If you have to explain something to them, it means it will be confusing to the readers too.
  5. Reading your work out loud to a group helps you discover flaws in your writing. An extra set of eyes will catch things like missed or incorrect punctuation, misspelled or missing words, incorrect capitalization, repeated words, inconsistencies and so much more.
  6. Critiquing the work of other writers helps you become a better writer as does listening to other critiques.
  7. Writing can be a lonely job. It is beneficial to get out and mingle with other writers, if only to commiserate. Other writers possess a wealth of ideas and can help you through that writer’s block when it inevitably hits.
  8. Belonging to more than one group can give you different perspectives.
  9. Your critique partners will become your cheering section, will come to your book launches and help promote your work once published. They have a vested interest in seeing you successful.
  10. Critique groups offer encouragement and motivation, something all writers need.

Most completed stories are not the result of a solitary writer. We all need critique partners. So what are you waiting for? Go out and find a critique group, or create your own.

Do you have any information about critique groups you have found useful?


Find and follow Darlene

Website: Darlene Foster    Facebook   Amazon author page

WordPress Blog     Goodreads      Twitter@supermegawoman

_mg_0158-edit-smAbout the author

Brought up on a ranch in southern Alberta, Darlene Foster dreamt of writing, travelling the world and meeting interesting people. She also believes everyone is capable of making their dreams come true. It’s no surprise that she’s now an award-winning author of children’s adventure books who divides her time between the west coast of Canada and Orihuela Costa, in Spain.

Click the titles or images to go to Amazon

51s5-ybaql-_uy250_Amanda in Spain

Amanda Jane Ross is certainly becoming a world traveller; she’s now in sunny Spain on vacation with her friend Leah. While there, she encounters a mysterious young girl who looks eerily like the girl in a famous painting she saw in a Madrid museum. Even weirder, the girl keeps showing up wherever Amanda finds herself – Madrid, the remote mountains of rural Spain, the beaches on the Mediterranean Sea, a lively fiesta and the busy streets of Barcelona. Amanda wants to help this sweet, young girl and her beloved pony escape the clutches of a mean horse-dealer. Come with Amanda on her next adventure as she attempts to unravel the mystery behind the Girl in the Painting while she treks across Spain – always one step ahead of danger!

Amanda in Alberta

51qqrgchsxl-_uy250_Amanda is delighted to show Leah around Alberta during her visit from England. They take in the Calgary Stampede, go on a cattle drive, visit Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, spend time with the dinosaurs at the Royal Tyrrell Museum and explore the crazy Hoodoos. When Amanda finds a stone with a unique mark on it, she doesn’t think it’s important until everyone seems to want it – including a very ornery cowboy. Is this stone worth ruining Leah’s holiday and placing them both in danger? Spend time with Amanda as she explores her own country while attempting to decipher the mysterious writing on the stone and keep it from those determined to take it from her.

51v70ddl03l-_uy250_Amanda on the Danube

Twelve year old Amanda Ross finds herself on an elegant riverboat with her bestie, Leah, cruising down the beautiful Danube, passing medieval castles, luscious green valleys and charming villages. When she is entrusted with a valuable violin by a young, homeless musician during a stop in Germany, a mean boy immediately attempts to take it from her. Back on their cruise, Amanda struggles to keep the precious violin safe for the poor prodigy. Along the way, she encounters a mysterious monk, a Santa Claus look-alike, and the same nasty boy.  Follow Amanda down the Danube, through Germany, Austria and Hungary, as she enjoys the enchanting sounds of music everywhere she goes. She remains on the lookout though, wondering just who she can trust.

Amanda in Arabia5150g0flfrl-_uy250_

Amanda Ross is an average twelve year old Canadian girl. So what is she doing thousands of kilometres from home in the United Arab Emirates? It’s her own fault really, she wished for adventure and travel when she blew out those candles on her last birthday cake. Little did she know that a whole different world awaited her on the other side of the globe, one full of intrigue, mystery and folklore. A world with a beautiful princess, a dangerous desert and wonderful friends. Join Amanda on her first adventure as she discovers the secrets behind The Perfume Flask.

Amanda in England51wdzbucljl-_uy250_

Amanda Ross is visiting England and taking in all the sights. She gets lost in the maze at Hampton Court, does some shopping at Harrods, meets the ravens in the Tower of London, explores Windsor Castle, and rides the London Eye. When she discovers a vintage book is missing from a collection, she is determined to find out who stole it. Amanda befriends a pair of tough teenagers from the streets of London, an elderly bookshop owner, and a big, friendly, clever, Maine Coon cat named Rupert. Follow Amanda through cobblestone streets, medieval castles, and underground tunnels in her quest to find the missing novel!


About Sue Vincent

Sue Vincent is a Yorkshire-born writer and one of the Directors of The Silent Eye, a modern Mystery School. She writes alone and with Stuart France, exploring ancient myths, the mysterious landscape of Albion and the inner journey of the soul. Find out more at France and Vincent. She is owned by a small dog who also blogs. Follow her at and on Twitter @SCVincent. Find her books on Goodreads and follow her on Amazon worldwide to find out about new releases and offers. Email:
This entry was posted in Books, Guest post, travel, writing and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

57 Responses to Guest author: Darlene Foster – Ten Truths About Critique Groups and Why Writers Need Them

  1. Marcia says:

    Great advice, Darlene! I’m printing this out to remind myself. I haven’t found exactly what you’re describing yet, but I do have 9 beta readers (on a private blog) who follow along with my draft, chapter by chapter, and they keep me on my toes, I must say. I can see where being part of a group with other writers would be very beneficial, too. Writers and readers aren’t always looking at the same thing, but getting those extra writing tweaks would surely translate to readers enjoying your work more, even if they weren’t always sure why. Thanks for sharing your tips! 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    • Darlene says:

      Thanks, Marcia. I do hope you find a group that works for you. The online beta readers is a good idea too. It is nice to be able to read your work out loud and have a group discuss your work bouncing ideas off each other. I Skype with my group in Canada now and it works well.

      Liked by 3 people

      • Marcia says:

        Skyping is a good idea. It ought to work great with something like this. My new computer doesn’t have a built-in camera, and I’ve been meaning to get one, so I can Skype with my grandson. One more reason to do so. 🙂

        Liked by 3 people

  2. Darlene says:

    Thanks so much for posting this Sue!


  3. Darlene says:

    Reblogged this on Darlene Foster's Blog and commented:
    Today I am a guest on Sue Vincent’s blog where I talk about the value of critique groups.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Very interesting Darlene.. thanks for the interesting post..

    Liked by 3 people

  5. I’ve never found a critique group to belong to! Any suggestions Darlene?

    Liked by 3 people

    • Darlene says:

      I attended a one-day writer’s workshop and met some very nice writers. ( well we all are, aren’t we?) At the end of the day, four of us decided we wanted to keep the momentum going so we created a group that met once a month. We still do 5 years later. Now that I spend a lot of time in Spain, we Skype. I was referred to another group by a friend and I read about another in the local paper. I have found one here in Spain too! Good luck finding one!

      Liked by 3 people

    • I have belonged to several critique groups over the last 15 years. All of them were associated with a writers’ society in the medium-sized city where I live (Victoria, British Columbia). Is there a similar group where you live? I’ve heard of online critique groups, but have never experienced one.

      Liked by 4 people

  6. Reblogged this on Stevie Turner, Indie Author. and commented:
    Interesting info. Thanks Darlene.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Illuminating post, Darlene. Thank you.
    I once belonged to a critique group but it petered out. I’ve heard of some horrendous ones. I’m still looking, but I agree, being in one works wonders if they are serious about writing. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  8. You are spurring me along, Darlene. I agree that critique groups are INVALUABLE; I used one for each of my two published books. I’m just at the point in my third book that I’m beginning to look for the next critique group (I’ve moved, and really miss my original gang). We found four to be a good number, meeting every other week, in which two of us read our latest chapters. Thanks for reminding me to start looking around. Great post!

    Liked by 3 people

  9. marianbeaman says:

    The critique groups where I live don’t quite fit: science fiction and romance novels don’t match memoir. Now I have turned to beta readers and have submitted my work for a “read” once and have done critiquing for a writer friend. The feedback has been invaluable and I plan to partner with others. Darlene and Sue, #4 and # 6 stand out for me: “Never defend your work” and “Critiquing the work of other writers helps you become a better writer.” Very timely!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Darlene says:

      In our group, we have someone writing a memoir, another a Victorian time travel tale, another writes short stories and young adult fantasy and me with my middle-grade adventures. We have learned so much from each other´s genres and it is good to get a different perspective. Glad to hear you found some beta readers. Everything helps. Just remember to keep your own voice. I think in memoir that is so important. Best of luck!!

      Liked by 3 people

  10. Reblogged this on Don Massenzio's Blog and commented:
    Check out guest author Darlene Foster on Sue Vincent’s blog.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Adam says:

    Good points all around, though I feel like 4 & 5 really stand out to me. It’s funny how reading the same piece aloud, in front of someone else, actually changes how you read it, helps you realize things that you want to change.
    When giving feedback I always like to ask the author a bit about themselves first, their writing goals and what they’re looking for.
    Sometimes I need help refining a piece, other times I’m looking for some simple affirmation to sooth my own inner doubts.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Darlene says:

      So true. Thanks for mentioning about asking the writer a few questions first, especially what they are looking for. Affirmation is necessary once in awhile as we all have those self-doubts. (is that a writer thing?)

      Liked by 3 people

      • Adam says:

        It’s a comfort to think it is. Otherwise it’s just me, but I also think it helps to understand how someone is approaching writing. Some are writing for the fun of it, while others are aiming to become published and paid, which are two very distinct goals. As with many things, feedback is a matter of audience, and it’s important to understand the audience before writing for them.

        Liked by 3 people

  12. Tina Frisco says:

    You’ve sold me, Darlene. Excellent post!

    Liked by 3 people

  13. dgkaye says:

    Great advice Darlene. Thank you. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Barbara says:

    There is some really good advice here Darlene, thank you.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Laura Best says:

    I’ve often wondered what it would be like to belong to a critique group. It sounds very intriguing. I’m not sure I’d ever be that brave, not to mention I pretty much live in isolation. However, I’ve a few writers I have shared with in the past and I can see how it would be so helpful to have other eyes to point out the flaws. Great post Darlene!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Darlene says:

      Online groups work too. Although I enjoy the face to face interaction, which is why I still Skype with my group in Vancouver. Other writers are so encouraging. You have done very well without the aid of a critique group, bravo!!!

      Liked by 2 people

  16. I never cease to be amazed at what a writer goes through and the support system available. I think the critique group concept is excellent and I watched my Step-Mother use a couple of them when she decide to write about her life growing up in Nazi Germany. She found the feedback the turning point for her to self publish her book. Great post and thanks to both of you for sharing!!

    Liked by 3 people

  17. Pingback: Smorgasbord Blogger Daily – 15th March 2017 – Hugh Roberts, Sue Vincent with Darlene Foster, Ali Isaac, Susan Scott and Balroop Singh | Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life

  18. balroop2013 says:

    Enlightening and inspiring post! Thanks Sue and Darlene for sharing your wisdom and a hug to Sally who highlighted it further.
    I would love to be a part of critique group as bloggers are always appreciative. It is only through critical analysis that we learn to work on our imperfections. An honest feedback is an essential tool for all authors.

    Liked by 3 people

  19. I have not heard of this concept before. Sounds like a great idea, a bit like a book club but for the members own books. I will reach out and see if there is something like this in Johannesburg. A very helpful post.

    Liked by 3 people

  20. I was blessed to belong to a weekly writers group for 6 years, where we shared our work and encouraged each other. It was always an incredibly joy filled morning. Sadly, age and ill health came along, and our group crumbled after one of our members died.

    Liked by 2 people

  21. You’ve convinced me that it would be fun. Now I just need to get out and find one (or straighten my house so I can start one here – lol). Thanks for hosting Sue, and for sharing at the Senior Salon, Darlene. I enjoyed reading all the comments as well – very helpful. I can’t leave without commenting on the graphic – WOW!
    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMORE dot com)
    ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder
    “It takes a village to educate a world!”

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Darlene says:

    I too love the graphic that Sue used on this post!! I hope you are successful in finding a group that meets your needs. It is fun. A tidy house is not a requirement!!


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