Six Things To Consider Before Joining An Online Writer’s Group

With the advent of the Internet came the birth of scores of writing websites.  Not only that, but online critique groups, discussion forums and informative blogs started popping up like freshly popped corn, too.  And with them has come the full force of a very interactive writing community.

Writers nowadays have easy access to many other writers who are finding their way, step by step, through the publishing process.  Whether you want an agent, to self-publish, to write fan fiction, or find like-minded people to share your work with, the world wide web makes it easier than ever before.

List of online critique groups*

But with this easy access also comes a few pitfalls.  With the faceless nature of the internet, people can be a lot less tactful than they are in real life, so it’s important to pick your discussions wisely in online forums.  However, not only is the nature of the beast one that lends itself to anonymity, it’s also one that can spur a wealth of information – both good and bad.

Checklist for critiquing a novel.

There are so many reference sites, critique groups and forums, that it can be hard to tell the cream from the sour milk.  Following are some common sense rules for getting the most out of your online critique group experience:

  1. Always look around a website and get a feel for its content, the general views of the participants, and the style it uses before you decide to post.
  2. While it’s good to have a healthy debate with your peers, make sure you are always respectful of other people’s opinions, even if you don’t agree with them.  The internet isn’t the place for people to leave their manners at home.
  3. Spend time participating in writing forums and critique sites, getting to know other, like-minded people.  If you take your time to really get to know people, then you’re more likely to build a core, solid group you can rely on for information when you need it.
  4. Don’t be afraid to share you experiences with people but make sure to highlight that these are only your experiences and not the gospel truth.  Writing is a very subjective craft, so what’s right for one writer might not be for another.
  5. Don’t take things on face value.  While the internet can be an amazing resource when it comes to finding the information you need, it can also be misleading.  Remember, ANYONE can post online, so it’s up to you to make sure you check the facts you read.
  6. Mind your words!  It can be very easy for people to misunderstand your meaning when you don’t have your tone of voice to make things clear, so spend a little time reading back what you just wrote before you post it to make sure you don’t offend anyone.

Romance Writers of America often offer local critique partner or group opportunities.

The internet is a wonderful place to meet other writers and it certainly speeds up the process of helping a writer to hone their work for publication.  But it is vital that you treat it with the respect it deserves and that you come into this online community with open eyes.

*Does not imply endorsement by Holloway Literary.