Critique Group or Collaborator Group? Crossing the line

Monday, October 4, 2010

When does a critique become a collaboration?

The wonderful critique group, of which I am a member, has been struggling with this question ever since a prospective member, who chose to go elsewhere, announced that we were too much of a collaboration group for her. Her comment shocked us into considering the possibility. Had we crossed the line?

According to Webster's Dictionary, critique is listed as "a critical analysis or evaluation of a subject, situation, literary work, etc." Collaborate, on the other hand,  means to "work together, especially in some literary, artistic or scientific manner."

In the broadest sense of the word, to collaborate would mean that we actively work together to produce each other's manuscripts. Our critique group does not do that. However, by very nature of being a critique group are we not working together, sharing opinion/s to make our manuscripts better?

What our group does do for each other includes looking for grammatical errors, confusion in plot and pacing, inconsistencies in the use of tense and POV, overuse of similar words, character description and growth, genre formatting if appropriate, story arc, endings that satisfy and I'm sure several other things I'm forgetting. And yes, we occasionally do this by showing and/or giving examples so that the writer has a reference for deciding to accept or reject the advice given.  If this can be misconstrued as collaborating then so be it.

I've come to the conclusion that we haven't crossed the line. A good critique group utilizes a little bit of both.

What do you think?


KarenG said...

I think it would be difficult NOT to go from critique to collaboration when you have worked together a lot, and have a good working relationship. Plus critique implies negativity while collaboration implies working together for a common goal. I see nothing wrong even if you have crossed the line from critique to collaboration. To me that seems like a good thing.

Teresa Fannin said...

From inside I'd say it is definitely CRITIQUE and not collaboration. When we read we say what doesn't make sense. We question a hole or TMI. We show where we, as reader, would like to see more information.

Collaboration would mean that we spend the time writing or telling the others WHAT should be written. None of us wants or has time to do that.

For me, personally, the opportunity to critique gives me a view inside my own writing. What I see in another manuscript helps me to see what is a mistake in mine.

overall, I'd say we're good. Quite good :)

Amie Kaufman said...

I think that any time you're offering an in-depth critique, you're going to give examples of the way something might go, how a particular scene could change. That's not collaboration, that's offering a set of reactions and cues to help the writer work out where to head. I do it all the time, and if I didn't get something like that in return, I'd think my CP wasn't trying!

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Hi! I’m Sandra Warren, a writer with very eclectic writing tastes. I’ve been fortunate to have publications in multiple genres including children’s, gifted education, parenting, how to, poetry, journal, educational activity guides and biography as well as audio and video production. I'm a city gal recently transplanted to the mountains of NC where glorious mountain vistas inspire latest renderings.

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