Brilliant editor Emma Dryden cooks up the perfect critique group

by Amber Keyser
Published on: October 11, 2013
Categories: Critique Process
Comments: No Comments


Emma Dryden of drydenbks was my editor for the still-not-out-yet (sigh) novel THE HUNT FOR MARA LAYIL so I know first hand that she is smart, insightful, and deeply creative.

I loved this post from her blog about critique groups.  She describes the Scrivas perfectly!

Emma was kind enough to let me share her entire post here but check out her blog and website and definitely follow her on Twitter.  She has a wealth of expertise and is generous in sharing it.


Are You Being Served? A Recipe for a Great Critique Group

– 2-12 dedicated authors (can be of different genres & formats; can be of same genre & format)
– heaping doses of imagination
– heaping doses of respect
– heaping doses of sensitivity
– liberal doses of gentle honesty (if you opt for brutal, critique group will become too tough and hard to swallow)
– open-mindedness and creative flexibility
– willingness to ask questions and listen to answers
– generous sprinkles of laughter (can use hysteria and guffaws if desired)
– timer (enables fair attention paid to each author)
 cough drops & water (enables requisite read-alouds)
– bathroom & stretch breaks
– delicious food
– comfortable setting (a cozy setting is even better, if you can find it)
– wine or spirits (for after critiques are completed! Some may find wine or spirits appropriate during, but proceed with caution)
– optional: friendly dog and/or cat; fireplace; views (ocean, woodland, mountains, etc.); anything else to enhance experience
Gather ingredients together on a regular basis. Stir with professionalism, exuberance, imagination, and inspiration. Surprises may result. Quiet moments of reflection may be required. Questions can be asked for which there may be no immediate or clear answers. That’s ok. Allow for staying open to possibilities; critique groups vary based upon the ratio and balance of ingredients.
Caution: If each author doesn’t feel heard and respected, the ratio of ingredients has gone awry and you will most assuredly want to double-check your recipe.
Note: Every once in a while, it’s a good idea to add a one-time ingredient to this recipe, such as a professional editor or published author who will provide a new voice and perspective to the discussion – this can best be achieved over a weekend. For a sample taste of this sort of enhanced group experience, go to this post from the Route 19 Writers blog.
This recipe serves many, including a richer society of writers and readers.
(c) emma d dryden, drydenbks LLC

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