Critique Groups

Written By: Tom Hessler

One of the benefits of SSWC membership is the opportunity to have your work critiqued by a group of fellow writers. Having someone other than family read your work (though I’m certain that your mother thinks you do a fine job) often gives insights on how to improve your manuscript. We are often too close to our own writing to see the obvious mistakes that others trip over when reading (forest, trees type thing).

A properly tuned critique group can sometimes do the job of a developmental editor, but only if it is run properly. To that end, we support our critique groups with guidance, expert advice, and certification of well run groups. We pride ourselves in our critique groups.

If you are looking for a Mutual Admiration Society, look elsewhere, please. Our groups serve to perfect your writings. Although the first few meetings may leave you feeling as though you have been flayed, after you develop a tougher skin, you’ll look forward to the (sometimes heated) discussions. Our only intent is to help you.

Some of these groups are already working at an optimum number of participants, and so cannot take additional members, however it may be possible to attend as a guest to see how they operate. Current group members may be able to help you establish a new group if you would like to do so.

If you would like to attend as a visitor, please email the contact person listed for each group. They will give you information about upcoming meetings.

Critique groups can operate in several ways, but we focus on one particular style, as we’ve found it to be very useful. A typical monthly critique group meeting would involve reviewing successive parts (say two or three chapters) of several of the participant’s works. The authors send each participant an electronic copy of the work. Members then read the work just as a reader would: sitting in an easy chair with no author voice explaining anything. They also review the work for punctuation, spelling, factual information, consistency of content, plot, characterization, tension, and structure, but it isn’t all criticism, as it is important to point out, for instance, where the writer has done a good job at dialogue, or keeping us interested, or perhaps just in the way a thought was expressed. Those who have had their work reviewed think that the feedback they have received is invaluable. The critique group is really the heart of a writing club.

Current SSWC critique groups

RESCU Critique Group
(Royal Elite Supreme Critique Unit)

This fiction group meets the third weekend (usually Sunday) of each month at a member’s house and has been in existence for dozens of  years. It has reviewed various genres of full-length novels and short stories, including sci-fi/fantasy, murder, thrillers, paranormal, historical dramas, young adult, and a screen play. The group currently has seven members and is full. Contact is Ron Smith

Third Wednesday Fiction Critique Group

This group meets the third Wednesday of each month at the member’s homes, on a rotating basis. Meeting is at 7pm. This group, in its multi-year existence, has reviewed a substantial number of full length novels, several short stories, a screenplay, and a memoir. Genres have included action, mystery, fantasy, intrigue, paranormal romance, and humor. This group is at an optimum size and at present is not able to accept new members. Contact is Mort Rumberg or Mary Lou Anderson

First Saturday Morning Critique Group

This group meets on the first Saturday at a member’s house in the Rancho Cordova area. It has been in existence for a while now. Contact is Jeannie Turner

Romance Rogues

This group meets weekends (1 each month) and obviously focuses on romance. Contact Tammy Andrews

Fantasy Writers

The group focuses on Fantasy genre. Contact Cathy McGreevy

North Sac area

This recently formed group is still settling into the pattern of things. Contact Gisela Butler



New Groups

If you are interested in starting a new critique group, please contact Brittany Lord

A new group has formed recently, reviewing a variety of fiction and non-fiction work. This group currently meets at 1:00 pm, the fourth Monday of each month, at the community house at 10026 Horn Road. (Directions: take Patriot Lane to the flagpole. Meeting is inside the clubhouse. Plenty of parking on left (EAST) side of the pool.) Contact Linda Lohman at or phone Karen Sepahmansour at 916-200-9896.

We will be forming a group that reviews juvenile material. They propose to meet either Friday or Saturday once per month. If you have an interest, please contact Brittany Lord

We are also forming a group to review short stories, screen, or play writing. Humor is acceptable. Group will meet once a month. Contact Phil Braverman


Some of our past critique groups have included:

Writers Critique Group Number 2

This group reviews a variety of genres including fiction and memoirs. The group meets on the second Sunday at 1:30pm. At present there are four participants. Contact is April Edsberg.

Non-fiction Critique Group

This group reviews non-fiction books, memoirs, magazine articles, and non-fiction short stories. They meet each month on the third Monday, at 6pm at a member’s house in Orangevale. There are currently four in the group, and they could accept up to two more members. The contact person for this group is Pat Biasotti.

Non-Fiction Critique Group No. 2

This group also reviews non-fiction books, memoirs, magazine articles, and non-fiction short stories. They meet each month on the first Saturday, at 10am at a member’s house in Gold River There are currently three in the group, and they could accept up to two more members. The contact person for this group is Frank Leek.

Science-Fiction Group

A new group has been formed focusing on science-fiction. As they have just formed, the meeting times and dates are still flexible, but it seems the second or fourth (or last) Saturdays work best for the majority of the group. For more info contact Roberta”Bert” Davis.