I had the wonderful experience of participating in the SCBWI Great Critique on Tuesday. I was very lucky to even get in. The event sold out within 36 hours and I ended up on the waiting list. Only a few days before the event I received an email telling me I was in.
It was my first critique and very exciting. We were divided into groups of 6 writers with one leader. My leader was Ruth Maxwell, author of a historical fiction novel. We took turns reading aloud each others 5 pages. It was interesting to listen to the style of the other writers. I brought the first 5 pages of Cleopatra's Legacy. Now that I am ready to send it out to agents I thought it would be interesting to hear a critique groups opinion. Luckily, they liked it. They told me it was very tense and drew them right in. Yahoo!
I've heard it suggested many times that a writer should join a critique group. What works for me right now is having a few trusted readers. After several re writes I send it off to them and eagerly await their opinions. I've inquired if there is a SCBWI critique group up my way, so far there's not. If one moves up here I'll have to check it out. Another option that Ruth suggested was an online critique group. That definitely has possibilities. I need to research it further.