Don’t Join A Writing Group. Join A CRITIQUE Group! By Sue Carloni

I sold the first article I ever wrote to the first magazine I submitted it to. But, that was after revising the piece over and over until I had faith that my article had reached perfection. Excited by my sale, I sought out and joined a local writers’ group that met semi-monthly. Members would read their manuscripts aloud at one meeting each month, and receive verbal comments. Those comments were somewhat helpful, but it wasn’t until I was invited to join a critique group of six published authors that my magazine sales started to soar.

Our critique group’s arrangement was that each member was to produce one manuscript per week-an article, a story, an essay, or a chapter in a book. During our weekly meetings, we passed around our manuscripts and everyone wrote down their comments and suggested changes. I soon learned how each of us brought a unique, valuable asset to the critique sessions. One woman was excellent at making sure our openings began in the middle of the action to grab the reader’s (and editor’s) attention. One was good at catching grammar errors. Another made sure our essays and articles included take-away messages. Sections that needed expanding or areas that were irrelevant were discovered by other members. Alternative titles were offered when the original ones seemed like they could use more spark. We were honest with our critiques but also kept them positive and encouraging.

My manuscripts improved at a much quicker pace than if I were still writing alone. More polished manuscripts led to more frequent submissions and subsequent sales. Sure, a writer can go it alone, but having input from other published authors results in an abundance of sales.

Sue Carloni is a freelance writer who lives in Wisconsin. She has been published in more than 60 magazines. Her writing has appeared in such publications as Guideposts, Woman’s World, Mature Living, Living for the Whole Family, Writers Weekly, Christian Communicator, Fellowscript, Byline, Funds for Writers, Lutheran Digest, Teaching Tolerance, and Teachers of Vision. She writes for both children’s and adult publications in the religious and secular markets.