The Grueling Critique Process

An invaluable post about online critique groups, reprinted from Robin Mizell’s blog, Treated and Released.  Robin Mizell is a self-publishing friendly literary agent (!)  She says, “It sometimes confuses aspiring authors when I refer to DIY resources….I try to give people the information they need to make good decisions, even when it seems counterproductive for my enterprise.”

To all poseurs, Marsha Durham announced yesterday on her blog, Writing Companion, “Don’t Even Think About Joining My Writing Group.” With glib humor, she then described the traits exhibited by annoying critique group members.

I can’t imagine how a legitimate critique group survives, but I do know that writers seem to have trouble locating them, whereas writers’ clubs that function as support groups are plentiful.

A writer who hopes to be published in a traditional medium needs to develop a thick hide. Editors and agents are desperate for talented writers who are willing to take direction. Conversely, writers who are sensitive and difficult had better be worth—in cold, hard cash—every bit of the time and trouble it takes to coddle them. Given the intense competition, any novice would be foolish to display the slightest hint of petulance.

How badly do you want to be published? Are you willing to spend time in a workshop or with a critique partner? Do you have the funds to hire a freelance editor? Can you face the prospect of revisions that will make your work more marketable—that is, more appealing to a publisher?

Online critique groups have the potential to take some of the sting out of the process, as they often allow members to participate anonymously. I very recently began collecting the following links, which I hope are helpful, although I’m not able to recommend any of the sites. I’ll be happy to add your suggestions.

Online critique groups for writers


Authonomy.com [added on February 1, 2009]

AuthorNation.com [added on April 16, 2008]

Critique Circle

Critique Groups for Writers

Critters Workshop [added on February 16, 2009]

Deadly Prose Novel Critique Circle [added on March 30, 2009]

Editor Unleashed » Critique Forums (aka Tough Love) [added on March 27, 2009]

Eratosphere [added on September 2, 2008]

The Frontlist [added on February 1, 2009]

The Internet Writing Workshop [added on February 1, 2009]

Literary Den [added on April 16, 2008]


Lulu Poetry [added on April 15, 2009] [You might want to read Self-Publishing Review editor Henry Baum’s criticism of the Lulu Poetry site’s launch.]

Morningside Writers [added on March 27, 2009]

My Writers Circle [added on February 3, 2009]

The Next Big Writer [added on February 1, 2009]



Online Writing Workshop for Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror [added on February 1, 2009]

Poet & Critic [added on February 20, 2009]

Scribophile [added on April 7, 2009]

TriggerStreet.com [added on December 14, 2007]

Two Adverbs [added on February 1, 2009]

The Writer » PREMIUM forums: Critiques [added on March 27, 2009]

WriteRomance Critique Group [added on February 1, 2009]


YouWriteOn.com [added on February 1, 2009] [Updated on February 6, 2009: You might want to read Writer Beware Blogs’ Victoria Strauss’s post criticizing this site.]

Zalso Writing Forum and Workshop [added on February 1, 2009]

Zeugma Poetry Workshop [added on February 1, 2009]

Zoetrope.com [added on December 14, 2007]

Forwriters.com maintains a list of online writers’ groups as well as local groups and writers’ associations. Writing-World.com also offers a list of critique and discussion groups. You can search Google Groups for a critique group that suits you, and Yahoo! Groups exist for the same purpose, although I found the Yahoo! site difficult to navigate.

Please proceed with caution whenever money is involved. Plenty of businesses exist solely to encourage writers’ fantasies. Chalk it up as a form of entertainment or therapy, if you can afford it. Otherwise, do your research and avoid the remorse.

  • also, stwa.net (Scrawl: The Writers Forum). A lot more conversation than writing, but some really, really good writing, and equally good critiques.

  • Correction: STWA stands for “Scrawl: the writers asylum.”