Are you in a critique group? If so, at what point do you send chapters to the members of your group? How detailed are the critiques you receive and give? Do all members in you group write the same genre?
QueryTracker blog on this topic (more on how to start and how to participate in crit groups). These questions are completely different, and I think, ones that every writer should answer and contemplate in their crit groups.
Whenever I post my work for critique, I think of it as going through the shredder. Sometimes I can't wait to see what's going to come out the other side, and sometimes I'm just plain scared. (Hey, I'm human, too.) Sometimes that shreddage can be scary--but it's almost always scary in a good way. (Not like those people up there. They're shredding lettuce. Yes. Lettuce. I guess it's uber-toxic lettuce because why else would they need the lab coats, rubber boots and face masks?? They take their shreddage seriously. As should your critters in your group. Man, this was a long parenthetical.) You need good shreddage to grow and stretch as a writer. But enough about that. Onto the questions!
1. Are you in a critique group?
Yes. More than one. I have a live crit group that I absolutely adore. I also own a forum at RallyStorm exclusively for YA authors. It's pretty much me and a dear friend, because we're not really sure about adding anyone else to the group and upsetting our uber-yen balance we've got goin' on. I love my fellow YA crit buddy. And I also have a precious group of friends who will read anything I want at any time. Their input is priceless.
2. At what point do you send chapters to the members of your group?
After I've looked at them so much my eyes are crossing, I can push apple+F and type in the exact line I'm looking for, and I'm about ready to select everything and hit delete. I believe that you should really look at your own stuff and make it as polished as possible BEFORE sending to crit buddies. There's nothing more annoying that trying to crit a first draft of someone else's writing.
Of course, one of the groups I'm in, we have to post 15 pages a week. Sometimes I'm not ready for that, but I do my best to get my pages out and pasted in a new document by Wednesday (I post on Friday). I look at them. Tweak. Change. Rewrite. Save. Thursday. Look again. Re-read. Tweak. Change. This only takes a few minutes. Friday. Email to self (can't post from a Mac, grumble). Read on PC (hey, it looks different). Tweak. Post. Read in post (different still). Tweak. Post.
I think this tweaking cycle is common among writers. (Please tell me it is, even if it's not...'kay?)
3. How detailed are the critiques you receive and give?
I think it depends. If the writing is strong, I usually just have "big picture" comments. Sure, I might have places where I think a stronger word would work better, or where the structure of the writing falls away. I'm a hugely character-driven reader, so I find that my critiques are geared toward the relationships in the story, how the characters are acting (or not acting), and making sure their dialog and actions are consistent throughout.
The crits I get vary from person to person. Because every person has something different they bring to the table. Literally. And that's what makes crit groups awesome. (Look at those bales of shredded paper. Isn't that...I don't even have a word for how super-stupendous that is. That's what my novel looks like after my crit group has laid their claws into it. And that's amazing too.)
4. Do all members in your group write the same genre?
No. My live group is varied. We have YA, historical fiction, romance, and LDS fiction. My online group varies too, from YA to MG to women's fiction to nonfiction to paranormal romance. I do have the YA group and that is obviously YA.
I don't necessarily think writing in the same genre is important. I think having knowledgeable, honest people is what really counts.
So don't fear the shredder. You need it. Crave it. Will be better for it. See what Abigail had to say and Terri will be up in this chain of madness tomorrow.