I was recently talking to one of my Agile Writers about why the workshop is so successful. In the last 3 years we’ve invited over 100 people to our group. In that same time we’ve completed over 20 first draft novels. That’s about a 20% success rate. For most any writers group, that is a pretty high percentage.
To what do we owe this success? Part of it is the planning that we do. The Agile Storyboard is an important first step to understanding your story and your characters before you get started.
But just as important is the way we do critique. Each writer is assigned two critique partners. The three writers will work together for the full six months they will be writing their books.
This creates a sense of accountability. You know that there are two people waiting to receive your work each week. So you have to get your writing done by Sunday night to email to your partners. That’s the motivation.
Likewise your partners are sending their work to you. You feel a sense of responsibility to critique their work by the following Wednesday night.
This also breeds a strong sense of camaraderie among the critique partners. It’s a cooperative arrangement. Everyone is working together toward a common goal. Your critique partners are your friends and they’re giving you great advice. And so, you want to give them your best advice as well.
We write about 10 pages a week for critique (double-spaced, about 2500 words). This is about the right amount so that everyone gets critiqued in an hour’s time. It’s also the right amount to create a 250-page novel in 6 months. Which is our ultimate goal.
How are you managing critique in your group? How does it work? Do you have the same critique partners each week or do you get someone coming cold into the middle of your story? What do you think are some of the advantages to your way and how does it compare to what we’re doing? Leave your comments below!