I love my critique group!
So far, I've received feedback from three of my five group members on my first twenty pages, and already I feel more confident about my WIP! This is a big deal because I was totally discouraged about it not a week ago.
The fabulous thing about their feedback is that it's so individual. I had to laugh at one point when one person suggested I cut a phrase that another person absolutely loved. Having both their perspectives at the same time really helped me to understand my own work better.
I could see how it was being received in general (where they agreed) and which parts would be loved/hated depending on the reader. For the latter, I go with my gut instincts. For the former, I happily revise according to their consensus. And it makes my book better.
If you haven't found yourselves a critique group, I highly recommend putting one together yourself. Chat up one of your favorite twitterer-writers, or connect with somebody in a writing forum (absolutewrite.com or querytracker.com). The worst you have to fear is that they'll say no thanks. But once you find somebody you click with (preferably who writes in your genre, too), you will wonder how you got along without them!
Okay, I'm off to write my work in progress.
Stay tuned for news about our new collaborative Operation Awesome blog. It's going to be epic.