Do You Critique for Free?

My article is the last stop on the Rolling Mystery Blog Tour. Here are the other bloggers who participated in this roll. If you haven’t already visited their sites, please stop by and have a look. If you like what they’ve written, please leave a comment.

Critiquing: A Two-Way Street
            The subject we are addressing today is: do you critique for free? If you are in the business of editing, of course you would charge to critique a writer’s work. But if you’re a writer, especially a one who is just starting out, having your work critiqued by other writers is extremely valuable in helping you learn and grow as a writer.
            Paying someone to critique your work can be expensive. Also, you receive the assistance and opinion of only ONE writer. If you join a writer’s critique group, however, not only do you get the advantage of several folks reading your work, you also get to read theirs. For me, editing someone’s work helps me hone my craft.
            Finding the right critique group is not an easy task, though. You have to find one that works, one whose members are serious about writing and who know the difference between constructive criticism and subjective judgment. I tried on two different groups before I found one that fit. The first group I joined couldn’t agree when and where to meet, much less how we would provide feedback. One member, who opposed every suggestion, came to the second meeting, wearing dark glasses and a sport coat with elbow patches. The jacket pocket held a pipe. He sat down at the table, crossed his arms, glared at the rest of us, and didn’t utter a single word. I left that meeting looking over my shoulder for the next few days. Another group was dominated by an elderly woman who fussed at the rest of us for misplaces commas and semicolons.           
            I finally found a group I felt comfortable, and we’ve been working together for more than eight years. We write different genres: non-fiction, sci-fi, mystery, screenplays, stage plays, short stories, and poetry. Over the years we’ve all improved and supported one another along the way.
            Money doesn’t exchange hands, but we’ve grown richer by reading and critiquing one another’s work. If someone outside my writer’s circle, wanted to pay me for critiquing their writing, I say, “Absolutely,” and you can make the check out to Kathleen Kaska.

            Our next blog is scheduled for Wednesday, August 17 and our topic is Red Herrings.