You Can Survive a Tough Critique Group

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HACWN friends, editors and publishers 2013

Do you love writers sitting around chatting and learning together? Me, too. I used the photo above to illustrate the family feel. Unfortunatly, all critique groups don’t feel like family.

When I first attended a critique group years ago, a woman I didn’t know well bluntly said, “You write in purple prose.” I didn’t have a clue what she the color purple, I did write poetry, but I submitted a double-spaced typewritten article in black and white, where did she find purple or even rhyme?
Unsure of myself, I didn’t ask what she meant. (Besides, you weren’t supposed to ask questions, just listen to the critique.) When I arrived home I called a writer friend, she explained the critique to me.
I survived six weeks in the group—seven well-published women and me. They taught me more in that space of time than in any critique group since.
Tough, yes. After each session I drove home in tears. My husband couldn’t understand why I returned, but I developed a tough hide.
I knew those women wanted the best for me.
So what is purple prose?
  • The flowery speech of King Jameth,
  • Too many descriptive words to convey a simple thought.
  • Lengthy convoluted sentences.
  • Paragraphs of descriptive dialogue.
Editors and readers like concise sentences made up of active verbs and specific nouns. After you write, edit. Edit again. Cut more. Remember many editors pay by the word. Edit your work as if every word cost you $1. Now practice cutting your word count by 200 or 400 words.
One last thought–our move to another city took me away from the woman with a harsh critique, but not from writing. It pays to take what feels like harsh criticism handed to us for our good.
Kat Crawford

Kat Crawford

Katherine J. Crawford, author of Capsules of Hope: Survival Guide for Caregivers, is published in sixteen compilations and numerous articles. Known as the Lionhearted Kat, she resides in Omaha, Nebraska. Visit Kat’s website her journal through breast cancer and the loss of her husband: www.caringgiver/visit/org.
Kat Crawford

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