Critique Group Speed Dating

by Amber Keyser
Published on: August 9, 2012
Categories: Critique Process
Comments: 5 Comments

On this blog, we Scrivas love to talk about effective group process and good critique, but I fear we may gloss over the hardest part of critique groups: FINDING ONE!  I know I had several botched attempts before finding the Scrivas.  It’s very difficult to assess compatibility of potential critique partners.  You’ve got to get into the process a little before you have any sense of whether it will work or not.

And that’s kind of like jumping into the sack with someone you’ve just met.  Could be fun. Or it could be an epic disaster.  Is there a way to streamline the process?

Well, I’ve been tossing around the idea of critique group speed dating for a while.

In looking for a critique partner, you want to find someone whose writing you respect.  That doesn’t mean it’s perfect, but it’s got potential that you can get behind.  You also want someone that you get along with on a personal level. Ideally, this is also someone who offers productive critique.


Here’s one idea for how it could work:

  1. Each participant brings in one page of their writing with enough copies for all participants.
  2. Two people sit down at a table and talk about their writing goals, creative process, and projects (NOT about the first pages).
  3. If you like the person, set their writing aside to check out later.
  4. After five minutes, switch partners.
  5. By the end of the evening, you’ll have identified a handful of people that you think are pretty cool.
  6. Go home and read the first pages.
  7. Select the people that you think would be a good match based on personality AND/OR writing.
  8. Pass your selections onto the event organizer and see if you’ve made any matches.

Voila!  A critique group is born!

What do you think?  Could it work?  Would you be interested in trying?

Post Revisions:

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5 Comments - Leave a comment
  1. Becky Levine says:

    I actually like this idea. So much of the stress of trying out a group comes from worry about hurting people’s feelings later, or getting stuck and not realizing the group isn’t a fit. And having a group organizer keeps everything relatively anonymous and out of any mind-game stuff.

    The only thing I might add is that each person should get a card to carry around with them, for the first bit of sharing, that tells where they live, basically, what genre they write in, and whether they’re available for meeting during the day or evening. And if people aren’t a genre/geography/time fit, they can just chat about their stuff with no pressure. Maybe?

  2. claudine says:

    Sounds intriguing to me.

  3. Caren says:

    This sounds scary, which usually means it’s something I should try. Count me in if you do this!

  4. ScrivaAmber says:

    Caren and Claudine, if you would drop me your email via the author contact form, I will keep you in the loop when we organize the first event!

  5. Sabina I. Rascol says:

    It’s a good idea, Amber, but I’d also want some way built into the process to see what kind of critiquing the potential partners would offer. Would they be just laudatory? Or do they tend to be slammers? One idea is that for the people you’ve liked, they leave critique comments on your first page, and you on theirs, before you leave the place That way you have a sense of potential partners’ personality, writing, AND critiquing style. Of course, I always want everything. 🙂

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