Don’t Know What to Write for NaNo? Don’t Worry!

inspiration pencil

NaNoWriMo is only a few days away. Are you excited? Are you ready? I wasn’t until this past Saturday. I was having a really hard time thinking of an idea to work on this November. More specifically, I had 1,000 different ideas, and I couldn’t figure out what I wanted to write. Are you having that problem, too?

It’s okay if you are. You still have several days before you have to know what you’re doing. Just in case you’re still trying to find an idea, I thought I’d share some quick tips.

1. Brainstorming
If you’re anything like me, you probably have tons of ideas floating around in your head, and you aren’t really sure which ones are viable. By brainstorming, you give yourself the freedom to explore all kinds of ideas and see which ones might work the best. You can do this by making a list of ideas, mind-mapping, drawing pictures, or tons of other techniques. The point is that you explore any idea that comes to mind without judging it. NaNo is all about ignoring that critic in your brain, so practice by letting yourself go wild with ideas.

2. Talking
Talking about your ideas can be really liberating. This is especially true, when you’re sharing your thoughts with another writer. He or she can help you work through your mental blocks to get to the idea you really love.

If you don’t want to talk about your ideas, you can also talk to a friend about important events in his or her life, powerful emotions, or even just vague concepts. Your friend doesn’t even need to know that you’re trying to decide what to write. Just having a conversation and thinking about it like a writer can help you generate new themes to explore.

3. Using Other Media
If you need help coming up with an idea to write, try letting other types of art influence you. Maybe a painting at a local museum will give you an idea. Maybe music will help you set the tone of your novel. A movie might give you a concept you can spin another direction.

Sometimes when I’m stuck, I like to create boards on Pinterest that capture the tone or feeling of the work I want to create. Other times I use it to pin images that match my vision of a character’s look or actions. There are all kinds of great inspiring images online, so use the internet to help you, just don’t get too distracted. Another cool and relatively new feature on Pinterest is the ability to create private boards, so if you aren’t ready for the world to see your idea, you can keep it private.

This list is obviously not exhaustive, but hopefully it will give you some ideas in time for NaNoWriMo. If you need other resources, feel free to reach out to other writers in the NaNoWriMo forums, or send me a message.

I’d love to learn about the ways you like to find inspiration. Share your ideas in the comments.

National Evaluate Your Life Day

trophies

Today is National Evaluate Your Life Day. Are you meeting your writing goals?

Take today and think about your writing life. If it isn’t exactly what you want it to be, make a plan to make it better. Maybe that means committing to daily writing practice  Maybe it means working to get published. Maybe it’s just improving your dialogue.

Whatever your goals are for your writing life, make a solid commitment with a deadline and specific steps you can take to get there. Hopefully by October 19 of next year, you’ll have reached your goal and be working towards a new one.

What are your writing goals? How well are you achieving them? What could you improve on? Share in the comments.

Strategies for Winning NaNoWriMo

floating pages

Winning NaNoWriMo isn’t about writing a perfect, or even complete, novel. It’s about putting your butt in the chair and writing all month.  You win if you reach 50,000 words. The end. That’s all there is to it. I know it seems easy now, but let’s talk about some strategies to make sure you finish the month with a shiny site badge that says you won NaNo.

1. Plan Ahead

Yep, the easiest way to stay on track during November is to plan ahead. This means planning your novel, planning your writing, and planning everything else. This will save you a lot of heartache on day one when you have no idea what you’re writing and on day twelve when you’re struggling to keep up with your word count. Planning makes NaNo and commitment, and you’ll be more likely to keep at it.

Last time I posted about how to prep for NaNo. Check this post out for more ideas.

2. Adjust the Plan

Plans are only good if they work, so don’t be afraid to change your plan once you get into NaNo. You may have an emergency that makes it impossible to stick to your schedule. Don’t stress if you have to take a day off, just make sure you make up the word count later in the week. Spreading the work across several days will be easier than trying to catch up on all your missed words at the end of the month, so adjust as you go, and you’ll be fine.

NaNo is all about discovery, so adapt.

3. Learn How You Focus

You may hear about people who do all their NaNo writing on the weekends and think it’s a great idea to do all your writing in two days a week. Others will find that a daunting plan and want to write a little bit daily. Figure out how you focus best. Do you need to do long blocks to stay in the flow? Do you need to take breaks to keep from burning out? Change your plan to fit your specific needs.

It doesn’t hurt to practice writing some stories or other projects now if you’re unsure about how you best work. That way you can head straight into November knowing exactly how you need to plan to work.

4. Learn What Inspires You

When you don’t have a ridiculous deadline looming over you it’s easy to say you aren’t inspired and not do any writing for the day. During NaNo, you won’t have time to wait until you’re inspired, especially if you’re playing catch-up towards the end of the month. Find out what helps keep you inspired now. Do you need to take breaks to read and recharge? Does writing with quiet music help you? Do you get ideas when you have coffee or tea on hand?

Part of NaNo is learning to write out of habit, rather than inspiration. Finding out how to force yourself to be inspired can make the process a lot easier. Work on it now so that you have some ideas when NaNo starts.

5. Change the Story

Whether you plan or pants in your writing, you will find that your story changes from your initial vision as you go. It can be scary, frustrating, and exhilarating all at once, but it’s part of the process. Don’t be afraid to make changes as you go. You need to write the story in the correct way. Don’t stick to the plan because you feel it’s set, and you don’t want to change it. You’ll just waste your time later when you have to come back and edit. Embrace the changes.

I know this can be doubly scary during NaNo when you’re just trying to push ahead with word count. In order to keep going during NaNo, don’t worry about going back to change the beginning to match. Just make a note of what needs to be changed and keep pushing with your new ideas. NaNo isn’t about creating a perfect first draft. You just need to get the structure down on the page.  Second drafts are for ironing out all the changes, and you can do that in December.

Check out this post on how to stay sane when your plot changes if you’re a little freaked out by the  idea.

6. Do Strange Things

Don’t be afraid to make your characters do weird things or to experiment with strange settings and styles. If you get stuck, sometimes making your character do something unexpected is the best way to fix the problems. Writing is about surprising your readers and yourself. Don’t be afraid of the weird.

7. Set Goals and Reward Yourself

Setting your own smaller goals and rewarding yourself can be a great way to keep motivated on those longer writing days. Maybe you tell yourself you get candy if you write for twenty minutes. Maybe you get to watch your favorite show without feeling guilty if you make it through a scene. Break the task into smaller goals to keep from scaring yourself with the large word count total you’re aiming for and to make the task more pleasant. It isn’t hard to work when you have something nice to look forward to.

8. Don’t Over Think It

It’s really easy to let yourself get critical about your work when you write. Sure, the dialogue is garbage and the plot is going in circles. Your characters may sound whiny, but that’s part of the process. Don’t get frustrated by the quality of the draft. Your job is to get it all down so that you can make it prettier and cleaner later.

9. Focus on the End Goal

You may think that the goal of NaNo is to reach 50,000 words in a month, and in a sense it is, but the real goal is bigger than that. The goal is motivate you to write. It’s to make you attempt something scary and crazy and fun. lt’s to make you ignore that crazy voice in your head that tells you everything you write is crap. NaNo is about ignoring the fact that you may not get published, or that the draft may fail, or that you may not be a good writer yet. It’s about sitting down and doing the work, so do just that. At the very least, you will learn a lot about your process and yourself during NaNo, and you’ll learn that you can write a lot. That’s what really matters.

10. Don’t Cheat

Sure, you can copy and paste 50,000 words of text from something else into the verifier and get the badges and prizes. No one will stop you, and no one will care, but you’ll be cheating yourself. Really commit to doing this the right way, or you don’t gain any of the benefits of doing it in the first place.

Prepping For NaNo

tiny notebook

Start exercising your fingers for the furious typing frenzy. We’re prepping for NaNoWriMo! If you’re playing by the rules you can’t officially start writing until November 1, but there’s plenty you can do to get ready.

Make a Commitment

Before you do anything you need to commit right now to doing everything you can to reach 50,000 words in the month of November. It sounds easy now, but crises will come up, you will get sick, relatives will drive you crazy, and/or you’ll eat way too much on Thanksgiving and fall into a food hangover. Plus, you know, you’ll also be fighting your normal amount of procrastination/writer’s block.

Trust me, stuff will happen, and NaNo will be the easiest thing to push aside. That’s why you have to seriously commit, and, more importantly, know why you want to do it. Is it because it gives you an excuse to write that novel that’s been stewing in your brain? Is it because you want to create a daily writing habit? Does it sound like a great way to challenge yourself to avoid procrastination? Whatever your reason, understand what is going to make NaNo important to you, and commit to finishing.  Otherwise you’ll get too busy and never finish.

Once you do that, you can prepare in lots of other ways to eliminate obstacles for November.

Plan Your Novel

As of today you have a little over two weeks before NaNo starts, and that’s plant of time for outlines, character sketches, background research, and any other preparation you think might come in handy. You can save yourself the “what am I going to write?” headaches by doing a little preparation. Even if you prefer pantsing you can spend time getting to know your characters and learn all kinds of facts you think will be important later.

Get Your Supplies and Your Spot

It’s best to anticipate future challenges. Figure out which tools you’re going to use, how you’ll save your work (and for heaven’s sake, back it up!), and what supplies you’ll need. If you’re planning to handwrite your novel, you’ll want a solid supply of paper and writing utensils of choice. If you’re typing, you’ll want to figure out what programs you’ll use to write and at least two methods for saving your work.

You can also get ahead by setting up your writing space. Find a quiet spot that you can claim for a month. Make it comfortable to fight back and body aches. Make it well-lit to fight eye-soreness. Give yourself plenty of room for materials to prevent frustration.

Tell Your Loved Ones

Sure, November is right in the middle of the holiday season, but you’ll need your family and friends’ support to get through November. They need to understand that you may neglect them during the month, but it isn’t because they’ve done anything wrong. You may want to spend extra time with your loved ones in the next two weeks to prepare them for your absence, and make it clear that you don’t want to be disturbed during your writing time.

You’ll also want your friends and family to encourage you during NaNo. During November, you will have many doubts and and fears, and your friends and family can help. Tell them now how they can best support you when your confidence fails, and they can be your biggest assets during NaNo.

Make a Writing Schedule

The biggest obstacle to NaNo will be finding convenient chunks of time for extensive writing. Try planning a writing schedule. By notating when you hope to write now, you can thin out the rest of your commitments come November. This can help you keep from over-shceduling yourself and leading to exhaustion and anger. If you know you have major commitments that can’t be rearranged during November, plan larger blocks of time before it to get ahead.

Making a writing schedule will also help you commit to daily work.

What are you doing to prepare for NaNoWriMo? Do you have any tips for first time NaNoers? Share your thoughts in the comments.

 

How to Make the Most of the NaNo Writer Community

child writing

In my last post I talked about how great the NaNoWriMo community is, so I wanted to follow up by talking about how you can make the most of the NaNo community this fall.

1. Forums

The NaNo forums are a great place to connect with other writers before, during, and after the event. You can talk about any part of the writing process, NaNo, or anything else. There are boards dedicated to novel research, in which experts in different subjects can answer your questions, plot generation, character naming, and pretty much anything else you think you might want to talk about.

Most importantly, the forums provide an online support group of others who are participating in the same event and understand your challenges. It’s nice having a large community to share your experiences with, or even just vent at the end of your writing day. In my various NaNo attempts, I have found the community to be extremely supportive, and sharing with other NaNoers is a great way to relieve stress and talk about ideas.

You can also find new writing partners to critique your work or to do sprints and “word-wars” with you.

2. Regional Groups

The NaNo site allows you to set your regional settings, and it will help you find other writers in your area. Many regional groups hold various events during November. You can meet other NaNoers in person, making you feel less alone. One of the great types of events many of these groups hold is the write-in.

3. Write-Ins (And Virtual Ones)

Write-ins are NaNo events where local writers get together for hours at a time to write. Take part in write-ins hosted by your regional groups, or even virtual ones. The great thing about write-ins is that you can write in the company of other writers. It makes the process less lonely, and you can make great friends with common interests. It can also help you focus to have other people busy with the same task around you. If you’re feeling blocked up, you’ll probably find some other writers who are struggling or in need of a break to talk to.

4. Friends

Invite your real-life friends to participate in NaNo. You can share the experience and have fun. Maybe some of your non-writer friends will participate, too. Then they’ll see how difficult writing a novel really is, and you’ll have another thing in common to talk about.

How do you use the NaNo community to help you write in November? What do you love about it? Share in the comments.

In Defense of NaNoWriMo and An Announcement About Upcoming Posts

Blank Typewriter

I know plenty of people argue about whether NaNoWriMo is helpful or harmful to writers, but I can’t help thinking that anything that makes us sit down and actually put words on a page is great. I love the creative, competitive atmosphere fostered by the event and the fact that unites people with similar passions.

For those of you who don’t know exactly what NaNoWriMo is, it’s short for National Novel Writing Month. NaNo is an event held in November of every year where writers all over the world commit to writing 50,000 words in 30 days. The idea is to write a novel that you start working on in November.

(Tip: While NaNo is about writing novels, you can write anything you want. There’s a group called Rebels that do this every year, so don’t be afraid to try it with something else, too! You can also choose different goals if you want to commit to more or less. You can also work on an older project if you really want to, like a rewrite.)

In all fairness, NaNo gets tons of criticism, and, sure, some of it’s valid, but it doesn’t concern me. Am I bothered that most NaNoers don’t get serious about their writing? Nope, they learn about writing and have fun doing it. What about the fact that most will never be published? How is that different from any other novel written at any other time? Besides, some do get published, and some of those published books are pretty big. Ever heard of The Night Circus? How about the idea that fast writing can equal sloppy writing? Every draft is sloppy. Might as well get it done fast and spend time editing later. You’ll have to edit it all anyway.

All I care about is that NaNo gives people a reason to sit down and write. It gives them a deadline, even if it’s ultimately meaningless. It gives them a goal, even if 50,000 words isn’t the right length for a novel. Lots of NaNoers have never written that much before in their lives or written with so much consistency.

I support NaNo because it gives people a reason to try something new and difficult. It gives writers a reason to keep going. It helps people actually work towards their dreams. It helps writers build writing habits.

Sure, you can do all of this any other time, too, but there’s something about the community and the frenzy of writing so much in a month that makes NaNo exciting. The best part of Nano is the community.

It does so much good for writers while fostering a supportive environment that encourages sharing with, commiserating with, venting to, and helping other writers. Actually, people are able to accomplish the above because of the community fostered on the NaNo site. We tend to be a lonely bunch, and I love that there is an event that encourages writers to reach out to others. It creates bonds from similar experiences.

Who cares if what NaNoers write is a sloppy mess? I’m betting that most novels that weren’t written in a month-long period are sloppy messes, too. NaNo is about ignoring the mess. NaNo is fast, so it makes you get ideas down on the page without worrying, and at the end of the month, you have something to show for your diligence. Sure, it won’t be ready to go out into the world. It probably won’t be a finished draft. It will be ugly. It will be confusing. What first draft isn’t? Still, writing 50,000 words in a month is an impressive feat, and you have something to work with at the end.

I’m all for NaNo and the benefits it brings writers, which is why I’m happy to announce that I will participate in my third NaNoWriMo this year. I’m so excited that we’re less than a month away, and I’m working hard to plan my novel. In honor of the event, I’m going to be posting some helpful guides and resources over the next few weeks to help you prepare for NaNo and have a successful month of writing.

If you’ve never done NaNoWriMo, don’t know what it is, or are considering doing it this year, check out the site. Even if you decide NaNo isn’t for you, I encourage you to try it at least once. It’s an exhilarating experience. Plus, if you’re serious about your writing you won’t regret setting goals for your novel and working hard to achieve them.

So start planning now and commit to making an ugly, sloppy, messy, beautiful draft of your own in November.

Do you have any resources you want to see? Any thoughts about NaNo? Share them in the comments.

6 Reasons Why Your Dialogue Sucks (And 7 Ways to Improve)

Improve Your Dialoge

I don’t care what anyone says, dialogue is hard. Every writer struggles to make character conversations seem realistic. But the good news is that it does get easier if you know which traps to look out for and how to fix them.

1. Your Characters Sound Alike

No one talks like anyone else they know. Sure, friends and family may pick up some of the same vocabulary, like slang and regional word usage, but no two people talk exactly the same. People use different sentence structures, nuances, and tropes in every day speech. The same person may even talk completely differently depending on the context of the conversation. Work on discovering the different ways people talk and representing them on the page. Each character you represent with dialogue should sound different from every other character.

2. Your Characters Think Alike

People don’t think the same as others. They don’t all follow the same logical paths. Streams of thought that seem logical to one person are nonsensical to another. When your characters talk, they should have different thought patterns, opinions, and ideas. Good characters can be picked out from the rest in a book even without dialogue tags, just because the reader knows how each character thinks. Don’t make your characters’ thoughts too similar.

3. You Don’t Write How People Talk

Grammar is fantastic. I love grammar, but all rules are meant to be broken, especially in dialogue. No matter how many times parents and teachers correct people as kids to speak and write correctly, speech is messy. Check out this great post on the Write Practice about how messy real speech is, if you’re curious.

Now, I’m not saying to go crazy and make an unreadable mess, but it’s ok to break grammar rules for the sake of character. Use good grammar when you can, but don’t do it if your character would not use correct grammar in his or her everyday speech. Don’t make your characters stiff with formal speech. Try to make them seem like real people by making their speech a bit messy.

4. You Use It As An Excuse to Tell

Show don’t tell. You’ve heard that over and over. Too many writers are convinced that tons of back story is necessary for readers to understand the plot of a story, and rather than cut it, they think they can cleverly hide it in dialogue. The truth is that real people don’t talk about back stories all that often, especially if they already know each other. When you talk to your oldest friend, do you always bring up how you met her? No. You’re characters won’t either, because you treat them like real people. While having your characters talk about actions in the past may seem like an easy way to get around info dump and tell everything about the plot.

What’s worse is that some writers use dialogue to avoid showing characters acting in scenes. Don’t fall into this trap. Just don’t do it. Dialogue is meant to explore characters and move the plot, not supplement it. This brings me to my next point:

5. Your Dialogue Doesn’t Advance the Plot

Yep, sometime writers think dialogue is just there as filler and nothing happens. It just takes up room on the page. When you talk to people in real life do you just talk for no reason? Well, sometimes people do, but that’s usually an indicator that someone is uncomfortable and something else is happening.

Dialogue is a great tool because its applications are so diverse. You can use it to give more detail about a character. It can show the truth someone’s mental state. It can advance the plot when characters come together for some reason.

Don’t cheat and use it as filler. Make sure your dialogue is essential to the advancement and clarity of the story.

6. You Use Annoying Tags

“Hello, John,” said Jane.

“How are you, Jane?” John asked.

“I’m fine, John,” said Jane.

“That’s delightful, Jane!” exclaimed John.

Please don’t go overboard with dialogue tags. As an avid reader, I’m begging you. Nothing pulls a reader out of a story more than unnecessary and distracting dialogue tags. Do we need to see who the speaker was at the end of every line? Nope. We can guess who’s talking based on the flow of the conversation, and if the writer has paid attention to points one and two, the way the character talks and thinks. Do real people use each other’s names throughout a conversation? Nope. Usually they are only used to get someone’s attention. So seriously, stop it. Get rid of all that unnecessary stuff and let people talk.

Okay, so now you know how people fail at writing dialogue. How can you fix it? Try these methods to get ideas:

1. Listen to Conversations

It’s simple. Listen to how people talk.

2. Watch Movies

Guess what? Movies are almost entirely dialogue. Study movies you love and see how the characters interact.

3. Read Dialogue Masters

Read writers who are great at dialogue, like Hemingway. Hemingway is the master of omission. He almost never gives more back story than is necessary. Read the short story “Hills Like White Elephants,” or the novel The Sun Also Rises and take some notes on how you can figure out what the characters want and how they feel without Hemingway saying it all for them.

4. Read It Out Loud

If you want to know how a conversation sounds, say it out loud like a conversation. This is an easy way to tell if the writing seems unnatural.

5. Try to Make Every Character Sound Different

Spend extra time making sure each character thinks and talks differently to help your readers get distinct impressions of each character’s personality. Enough said.

6. Don’t Be Afraid to Break the Rules

Grammar is a helpful and wonderful thing, but don’t let it hold you back in dialogue. When you’re listening to conversations, make notes of how people ignore grammar in conversation, and don’t be afraid to do the same in dialogue.

7. Practice

No part of writing will ever be easier if you don’t practice. Write lots of dialogue, and then write some more. You’ll start to learn what parts you struggle with and what to pay attention to in your edits. You’ll learn how to fix your mistakes, and before long, you’ll stop making so many. Write stories entirely out of conversations. Write stories with conversations as limited as possible. Write dialects. Write about different ages and cultures speech. Practice different patterns of speech and thought. Try it all, but whatever you do, don’t be afraid of it. Learn to love dialogue, or hate it and work past it, but you have to write it to improve.

Do you have any great dialogue exercises to share? Have you read any particularly good or bad dialogue recently? Have you written any? Let’s talk about it in the comments.

 

 

 

 

Banned Books Week

blankbook

In case you haven’t heard, this week is Banned Books Week. As writers, we are all book lovers, and we know that books have immense power to change us as individuals and to impact society. Censorship threatens freedom of expression and represses the spread of great thoughts and ideas.

I believe that challenging and banning books does nothing but hurt society. Civilization cannot grow and evolve without ideas that open our minds to new perspectives.

Stretch your mind and honor controversial books that challenge norms by reading a book from the list of frequently challenged and banned books. Earn extra kudos by reading a book that challenges your own beliefs.

What books have challenged your beliefs? What frequently banned books do you love? What challenged books are you reading right now? Let’s talk about them in the comments.

Traits of a Good Writing Group (And What a Good Group Isn’t)

Better Writing through Critique Group

A good writing group can be a great asset to creating your best work, but a bad group can be worse than trying to work alone. How can you tell if you’ve found the right critique group? Here are some things to look for to make sure you’ve found a good group:

Members challenge each other

One of the main points of a writing group is to share your work and discuss how audiences might react to it. In a good group, members will be honest about their opinions of the work and challenge each other.

While a group that’s always positive might make you feel good about your writing abilities, it doesn’t help you improve your writing skills or your work. Look for a group where members are not afraid to critique honestly, but remember that you don’t have to make every change suggested. It’s your job to be open to criticism and new perspectives. Consider alternative ideas that your group members suggest.

Beware groups that offer each other nothing but positive feedback. No one is gaining anything except an ego boost.

They support each other

While it’s important that your group members challenge your writing, a good group also offers its support. You don’t want to be in a group that’s always negative and makes you feel bad about your writing, since this can lead to more writing fears. Instead, try to find a writing group that offers a good balance between critique and support. A good group will offer encouragement when you finish that difficult scene, even if it isn’t perfect yet.

Beware groups with members who do nothing but tear work apart. Sure, every piece of writing has plenty to work on, but every piece has something going well, too. Too much negativity could be a sign of jealousy.

They understand grammar and story

Good critique groups can help you work through both your grammar hang-ups and your story qualms. You don’t want to waste time on a group that only picks apart your comma usage, since that doesn’t help you with your story, but you don’t want to spend too much time with a group that never points out your sentence fragments, either.

Beware groups that only want to focus on grammar or story. You need both to be successful.

They understand your genre or topic

You need a writing group that understands the basics of the type of writing you want to do. While broadly focused groups can be helpful, you need other writers who get your genre and your topic. It’s really frustrating to talk to people who just say they “didn’t get it” week after week. You also don’t want to waste time trying to give feedback on a type of writing you don’t get. A reader’s response to writing has a lot to do with taste. Find people who love the your genre as much as you do, and you’ll get better feedback. You’ll also have more fun reading the work of writers who like the same work you do.

Beware groups that focus too broadly. Poets won’t need the same feedback as fiction writers and vice versa.

You enjoy spending time with them

Make sure you can get along with the people in your group before you waste time trying to build relationships that aren’t going anywhere. Sharing your work with others requires a certain level of trust, and this is even more important when those people will be critiquing your work. If you don’t like the people in your group, you’re never going to respect their work or their opinions on your work. You’ll have to spend a lot of time together, too, and you don’t want it to be painful.

Beware groups made up of members with whom you don’t connect. You won’t enjoy the group, and you’ll probably waste your time.

They Get to Work

When you connect with your group, you’re bound to want to discuss more than just writing, but this can really get in the way of progress. It’s fine to have a group that wants to talk, but a great group understands when it’s time to get serious. Otherwise, you’re wasting your time and not improving your writing at all.

Beware groups that can’t focus. They won’t help you focus on your writing.

Members are on a similar level

While it’s great to have members that are more experienced writers, it can also be hugely detrimental to have a group with extremely varied levels of writing knowledge and skill. Beginning writers have different needs than intermediate writers, and professionals need a completely different experience. Find a group that fits your skill level to help build better relationships and make sure you’re focused on the right things. Putting professionals with beginners can cause animosity, and it can also be a waste of time for one skill group or the other. It can also cause animosity and jealousy between writers.

Beware groups with large gaps in experience and skill, since this can lead to arguments and wasted time.

Do you have any other feedback on finding a great critique group? Share it in the comments.