The critique group I joined is changing the way I write my novel.
More story, less spontaneity
I am forced to plan out the story more. This is good in that I have a more solid idea of the world, who the people are, and what made them that way earlier than I would normally. It is bad in that as a result my writing is not so spontaneous. It’s no longer a journey of discovery, I’m working to an outline and it’s starting to feel like work. (I’m a technical writer by day and I do outline for this.)
I’m writing to a different audience
I have always written to an audience—Sherylyn and myself—but now I’m starting to consider what my critique group wants as well.
If I’m not careful the story will go in a direction I hadn’t planned. I know what the group likes by now; I know that the next part of the story won’t suit them at all. There is a real possibility that I will take the story in a different direction because of this.
That could be good, it could be bad, but right now it’s uncomfortable, like someone is hijacking my story.
Best value is from continuity crits
The best critiquing I get from the other members is comments about continuity.
For example, I have two characters looking at a dead body. Two paragraphs later, one of them removes the sheet that covers her. But they were already looking at her.
Another example. The protagonist is seated, working, when a young girl comes in and tells him he is needed at the hospital. Next thing we know, the girl is skipping to catch up with his longer legs—however, he never moved from his seat.
Minor details, but very important. We may have caught them in the last draft, but sometimes we don’t. So far, this is where the value of the writer’s group is coming into it’s own.