A good writer’s group should inspire the craft of writing and encourage and assist each member toward the goal of publication through programming and member activities. These groups range in size from a handful of members to hundreds of members.
Critique groups are smaller than writer’s groups, usually four to five people maximum. They trade chapters and give comments and feedback about plot, characterization, lack of content, and violations of Point of View. Be willing to take criticism, but if you leave your group feeling defeated after every meet, you might be in the wrong group. When offering a critique, give two to three good points before dropping the bomb. Never make someone feel bad for what they’ve written. Always find ways to encourage and help them improve. If you don’t feel you’re getting this from your critique group, it might be time to move on.
Beta Readers usually read the finished story before sent to the publisher. They can indicate where chapters bog down, where they got confused and had to reread a section and indicate if something is unbelievable. They get to know the characters and advise if they are likable, or even acting out of ‘character.’ Be sure to choose a Beta Reader that reads the genre you write.