Your genial blog host Dixon Rice on critique groups.
My local critique group is terrific. They catch spelling errors and grammar mistakes. They notice continuity problems, POV violations, tense problems, and subject-verb disagreement. Most important, they ask annoying questions.
In my WIP, two deputies in a rural Montana sheriff’s department have a hobby. They kill criminals when they can’t get a conviction in court. So I have them researching cold cases, staking out suspects, interviewing witnesses, and other extracurricular activities. You know, acting like detectives, even though they are just patrol officers.
Two nights ago at our biweekly critique session, Jake asked me, “When do these guys work?” Well, darn. He had spotted a problem that many crime fiction readers would immediately notice. My deputies were not getting calls about domestic assaults or car accidents. They were not giving speeding tickets. They were not transporting felons, reporting their locations and odometer readings to the dispatcher, filling out forms or testifying in court.
I can fix this oversight, but I never would have realized it existed if not for Jake and his annoying question. That, my friends, is why Jake and I started our critique group, and why I keep coming back for regularly-scheduled ego adjustments.
This Christmas, look for Dixon’s first published novel, THE ASSASSIN’S CLUB: PRESERVATION.