Sunday, June 14, 2009

Goldie Writer and the 3 Critique Groups

Once upon a time there were three bears-- Papa Bear, Mama Bear and Baby Bear-- who lived in a small cottage in the forest. One day, they were about to eat their porridge, but it was too hot. So they went out on a walk to give it time to cool.

Uh oh! They forgot that today was the day their critique groups were coming over!

Well, the critique groups came over, chitchatted and started their meetings without Papa Bear, Mama Bear and Baby Bear. Then along came Goldie Writer with her rough draft. She heard the groups meeting and couldn't resist the temptation to sneak inside.

First, she sat down with Papa Bear's critique group. When it was her turn, Goldie Writer read her manuscript aloud. Then she waited. All the bears in Papa Bears critique group told her what was wrong with her manuscript. And, according to them, there was a lot wrong! "It was boring," said one. "It was confusing," said another. "I just didn't like it," said a third. Could her manuscript really be that bad? Papa Bear's critique group was too hard.

So Goldie Writer moved on to Mama Bear's critique group. When it was her turn, she read her manuscript aloud. Then she waited. "Oh, how nice," said one bear. "Just lovely dear," said another. "My grandchildren would just adore that story," said a third. "Oh, I'm sure a publisher will pick it up any day now," said a fourth. Goldie Writer's head was spinning. In this group, nobody told her anything was wrong. Could her manuscript really be that perfect? Mama bear's critique group was too soft.

So Goldie Writer moved on to Baby Bear's critique group. She read her manuscript aloud for the third time. "I really liked your main character. She was spunky and likeable," said one bear. "Yes," agreed a second bear. "And the opening to your story had me completely hooked. I couldn't wait to read the next page." Then a third bear chimed in, "I completely agree," she said. "But you might want to look at your ending again. You had me kind of confused there." And a fourth bear added, "And take another look at your dialogue on page 4. It feels a little too much like an info dump to me there." Goldie Writer grinned. They liked it! And they gave her real ways to make it better. She couldn't wait to get home and start revising. Baby Bear's critique group was just right!

At that moment, who should come home, but Papa Bear, Mama Bear and Baby Bear.

Papa Bear found his critique group steaming. "There was a girl here and her story was soooo awful. Thank goodness she's gone!" they said.

Mama Bear found her critique group happy but confused. "There was a girl here and her story was just lovely. Where could she have gone?" they wondered.

Then Baby Bear found his critique group. "There was a girl here who wrote a very intriguing story... and now she's a member of our critique group!"


And so, in this badly fractured version of this traditional tale, Goldie Writer continued to return to the bear's cottage on the first and third Friday of every month. And she continued to leave filled with inspiring ideas of how to make her good manuscripts even better. And they all lived happily ever after!

The End


  1. That Goldie Writer is a smart cookie not to be taken in by Mama Bear's critique group. Their porridge is too mushy.

  2. And too drowned in sweet empty calories.

  3. But I heard that the current leader of Baby Bear's group is the Big Bad Wolf. Heheh. Great post!

  4. Thanks so much for all the fun comments, guys!

    Bish-- I hope you (and every serious writer) is lucky enough to join a group just like Baby Bear's!

    Gale-- I agree with you completely! Mama Bear's critique group can be much more dangerous to a writer than Papa Bear's. Especially for a beginning writer who doesn't know she's drowning "in sweet empty calories".

    J.L.-- Don't know where you heard that about Baby Bear's group's fearless leader. Everything I've heard about her says she's awesome!

  5. And we all do seem to sit in the same chairs...mine feels just right!