Participating in a critique group for the first time is like taking your clothes off in public. You feel exposed and vulnerable. I have been a part of the same group for many years and cherish the members. Receiving honest, insightful feedback on my writing is essential to the process. But not all criticism is equal or productive. Let me share some tips on critique partners or groups.
The goal of critique should always be the same: To politely offer feedback with the goal of improving the body of work under consideration; To offer praise for the aspects that deserve it, and point out areas that need work.
Above all, the critique group should fit you. First, decide if you need to meet face-to-face or online. Do you need a single critique partner or a group? Do you plan to meet weekly, bi-monthly? You need to find something you can commit to because the longer you critique together, the better you will become as critters.
Critique Group Etiquette:
1) Be kind
2) Do your homework: Take writing classes; Review online articles.
3) Be objective: Use writerly criteria.
4) Do not "defend" or explain your work. If the reader didn't "get it" perhaps you should re-writing it stronger. If you receive negative comments, say thank you.
5) Take turns. Listen politely while your work is being reviewed.
6) Listen politely while someone else's work is being read and make well thought out, constructive comments. Never make negative comments in an unkind manner.
7) Remember to comment on elements you like.
8) Make a commitment to show up for the agreed upon meetings whether or not you have pages to read. It's not fair to only appear if you have work to be read. This should inspire you to always have pages ready.