The last point leads to the types of critique groups and their advantages. I’ve been in one where the members were spread across the world and only communicated online. We did month long critiques of every detail in the submitted novels. A lot of work when you had to do several novel ‘clinics’ a year in order to line up two or more critiquers for your next submission. After that I joined another online group where material was submitted piecemeal, but if you wanted to get the best critters responding you had to have made friends by critiquing regular submissions of theirs. That group was one where some people lurked in the shadows to jump out and hit the unsuspecting submitter with the aforementioned withering contempt. You had to learn who to ignore on that list.
After that I belonged to a smaller group where one submission a month was sometimes too much for the other members. There was also a problem of some not being on the same craft level as the others, and the newer writers lost heart when they saw how much they needed to catch up. That group just faded away—I suspect I was the troll under that bridge. Over the years I’ve also attended writing workshops given by experienced professionals and had my mind blown by the depth of their analysis and understanding of fiction.
My local group has many of the advantages of both the online and face to face critique groups. We submit a new chapter monthly by e-mail and critique all six of them (if all the members have had time to write that month) and return them to the group before the monthly meeting in a local library to discuss and nit pick some more. I would like to have more submissions per month, but then I’m the only one retired who can write full time. The others have full lives elsewhere, so a chapter a month is more than enough for them. When the solo reads and critiques from everyone are posted back before the meetings, one can get the individual responses first, and they are then extended by the group discussion in the library. It’s much easier to ask ‘what did you mean by that comment?’ in person than through impersonal electronic communication. Since all the other members are ladies, I get more than enough supervision to make me stay within group etiquette.
It would be interesting to hear about the forms of groups others belong to, but perhaps in the comments. I’m moving to my part three next.