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writing workshops FAQs

What is a critique group?

It’s a meeting designed to offer constructive critical feedback. A writer will bring a piece of their writing to the group, share it, and be able to hear the views of other writers. It’s a way to see the piece afresh, and get feedback from people who have some understanding of the creative process.

Why would I want to write by committee?

You wouldn’t. Most people use these groups as a think-tank, not as a policy committee. You are free to disagree with, or disregard, absolutely everything you hear. However, most writers find they glean useful insights into their writing, and can then choose whether or not to act on those ideas. Quite often, writers will find that one person in the group has a particularly good ear for, say, dialogue; another for plot holes, and so on. Being selective is a good way to go. It’s also a great way to learn, in a highly specialised environment.

How much direction is given by the facilitator?

Some. The facilitator role is about achieving balance in the feedback, asking provocative questions, and looking after the best interests of, first and foremost, the person sharing their work. By sharing your writing, particularly in draft form, you are taking a risk. N Quentin Woolf recognises this, and is skilled at managing the range of personalities and the flow of feedback with sensitivity, ensuring you get frank feedback without personality clashes, different artistic ideals, or communication issues getting in the way. NQW moderates each group using a structured approach developed over many hundreds of hours facilitating writers’ feedback groups.

Which group would be the right fit for me?

Groups evolve, and a good fit has more to do with the range of personalities in a group at any given time than anything else. If you supply details of yourself and your writing, NQW will be able to suggest the most suitable options.

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