Making Friends Through Critique Groups

Critique groups provide a great way for writers to receive feedback while making friends with fellow authors. We all know that it can be challenging to find friends who understand how a writer’s mind works, so why not take advantage of opportunities that connect you with your peers? Another advantage of critique groups is that they offer one of the most affordable ways to get editing help.


Critique groups provide accountability, which can be valuable at any stage of your writing journey—especially when you are a new writer or later when you hit a writing slump. Not only does knowing that your critique partners are waiting to read your submissions motivate you to write, but as a partner, you are also aware that people are expecting you to read their work. This creates a supportive system for everyone involved.

Diverse Perspectives

In a large group, you’ll benefit from a wide variety of perspectives, ranging from beginners to published writers. Regardless of their level of expertise, all critique group members share one thing in common: they are readers, and reader opinions matter. You’ll also encounter critique partners with a range of interests. For me, having feedback from non-horse-savvy critiques has been especially helpful, as it ensures my stories are clear to every reader. Each member will have their own strengths. Some may excel at punctuation, while others can help with context or connecting the dots. Some partners will hold you accountable for your research.

Developing Writing Skills

Participating in critiques will help you develop your writing skills, particularly when you critique other writers’ work. You’ll experience different writing styles, techniques, and voices. Learning to accept critiques will help you understand where you need to improve and what you do well. Accepting feedback gracefully can also help develop humility and resilience. Sometimes, the critique that makes you question why you ever thought you could become a writer is the one that teaches you the most. Learning to handle tough or even unreasonable criticism prepares you for the gamut you’ll face with agents, publishers, and readers. Not everyone will “get” your story, and that’s okay.

Character Development Through Feedback

Critique groups can help you develop your characters. You’ll know you’re making progress when your critique partners become invested in your hero, heroine, or even a sidekick. They will also let you know when you haven’t quite captured those scenes that seem perfect in your head on paper.

Benefits of Critiquing Others

Critiquing works both ways. The more you work to explain to another author why you think they’re not showing enough detail, the more you’ll understand concepts like “show, don’t tell” yourself. You’ll exercise your critical thinking skills, which will boost your confidence and validate your writing. Over time, your critiquing skills will improve as well.

Potential Disadvantages of Critique Groups

However, critique groups do have their disadvantages. One issue is the ebb and flow of a writer’s life. We often work intensely on writing and submitting, then experience a lull during publishing and marketing, or before our next book is ready to go through the group. This can be more problematic in smaller groups than in larger ones.

Handling Conflicting Advice

Sometimes, you will receive conflicting advice, bad advice, or suggestions you simply don’t agree with. This is when a writer must trust their own skills enough to reject certain feedback. Although this may seem like a disadvantage, it is a valuable addition to your writing toolkit. Learning to stand up for your own work and deciding when advice doesn’t fit your vision requires a level of authorial maturity. You are not obligated to accept every bit of advice on your work. One of the most valuable phrases a critique partner taught me was, “Author knows best.” It’s your story, your vision, and you have the final say.

Navigating Group Dynamics

Group dynamics can sometimes be challenging, but this is not unique to critique groups. You may feel the tone of the group is not encouraging, that one person dominates, or that the critiques are overly harsh. It’s up to you to find a group you can work with.

Managing Time Commitments

Critique groups require a time commitment, as does writing. A group with submission limits might not suit someone who is in a hurry or has a tight deadline. For instance, if your group only allows a 5,000-word submission each week, it could take 16 weeks to send your entire 80,000 word manuscript through the group.

The Value of Critique Groups

I’m grateful for the critique groups I’ve been part of. My partners have trained me and improved my skills. Sometimes, they’ve even pulled me back from ridiculous rabbit trails! I’ve also had the pleasure of getting to know some of the best people.

A Thank You to My Critique Partners

So, thank you to all the authors who have critiqued my work over the past decade. You know who you are, and I appreciate you.

Here's to terrific reading, writing and editing,



Lifetime horsewoman, Barbara weaves her extensive background with horses and their people into exciting stories about happily ever after for men, women, and horses. Barbara also enjoys helping others with horses and writing.

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