• Ejuen Armstrong

Personality Types in a Writing Critique Group

If you're a new writer, being part of a critique group can help to develop through feedback from your fellow members. However, in some groups cliques may develop ...what am I saying? - cliques always develop! Birds of a feather will flock together and it's usually the same for personality types. This article gives you some idea of the various types, how best to deal with them - and where you might sit.

Charismatic Leader

The Charismatic Leader is one of the best writers in the group. They've already had at least one book published. They're clear-headed, have a calm demeanour and can smooth over troubled waters with a few words.

Nothing fazes the Charismatic Leader. If they're aware of their position, they will never show or exploit it. They have very little ego and are willing to take criticism without flaring up. They're the one everyone wants to emulate.

Keep the Charismatic Leader close to your side. They will soothe ruffled feathers, including your own. They're never partisan, just reasonable. In a difficult situation the Charismatic Leader will be your best friend.


The Joker writes purely for pleasure, not fame, which certain members may find irritating. They poke fun at almost everything and take so little seriously it's hard to define their true objectives. Jokers will write something controversial simply for the fun of it and may be a little insensitive to the feelings of others.

They can be the best writer in the group or the worst – they genuinely aren't concerned either way. They have as little ego as the Charismatic Leader and take criticism of their insensitivity like water off a duck's back. Everyone is usually the Joker's friend. But if not careful with their irreverence, everyone can also quickly become their enemy. Keep the Joker close for those days you're feeling down.


The Egoist's word is law. They are extremely outspoken, and will always seek to say something controversial. They have no problem with causing offence. They don't need a specific target – everyone is inferior, and consequently subject to attack.

Unfortunately, others will often tip-toe around the opinionated views of the Egoist, hoping for a quiet life.

The best way to do deal with them is to maintain your own views. It may cause some friction at first but it is useful in helping them to calm down and seeing life from a gentler perspective.


The Intellectual has read almost every book on the planet and will reference them in their comments and feedback. You may not understand much of what they're saying. In fact, after sitting next to them you might decide to buy the entire contents of your local bookstore, along with everything ever published online.

Life is very serious for the Intellectual, so they usually don't see eye to eye with the Joker. This doesn't matter. What does is that they had a book published many years ago, which makes them an authority on all genres of writing.

Sometimes the Intellectual might seem like the Egoist, but the truth is sometimes they're just happy sharing knowledge. Others might consider them to be a pontificating bore, but the Intellectual has indisputable writing skills. Many in the group want to be just like them when they grow up.


The Politician loves observing the power matrix. They will play it like a chess game and will switch allegiance at a moment's notice. They love debate, because it draws out the true personality of others and gives a clearer idea of the power base.

Although the Politician might be seen as a trouble maker, their main motivation is entertainment, not malice. They may throw an odd question into the discussion just for mischief. They will often steer completely away from the topic for fun and to see who gets the most frustrated.

Though similar to the Egoist in approach, they are not so emotionally intense, and are usually on good terms with the irreverent Joker, who also provides a useful litmus paper test for the other personalities. The Politician knows everyone's background and personal life – including yours – and isn't averse to sharing it.


The trend-setter is not an editor, but they know all the new rules in writing and focus keenly on what the market reflects. They know which punctuation to avoid, all the buzz words that are no longer buzzing, acceptable fonts, formats and passé clichés. The trend-setter believes it's a no-no to follow any of the old rules and anyone doing so is a dinosaur.

If you're not the Trend-Setter, you may want to avoid sitting next to them. Otherwise be prepared to put up with their confidence-draining mutters throughout the reading of everyone's work.


Not surprisingly the Disciples need someone to follow. While they may be extremely good writers, their lack of confidence often shows in their open declaration of favouritism for another member's style or voice. They will follow either the Charismatic Leader or the Egoist/Bully.

Normally this would create friction if these two major players ever get into a debate. But the Charismatic Leader isn't called charismatic for nothing. Even the Egoist bows to their gentle opinion.

In a mixed group, the sad truth is that females tend to be over represented as Disciples, with both the Charismatic Leader and the Egoist likely to be males. Their Disciples will often suggest them for leadership roles. Be aware that if you challenge either of these individuals, you also challenge their Disciples.

The Personal Assistant (PA)

The PA loves attention to detail. They're the most organised person in the group. They arrive early, have everyone's contact details, and keep spare copies of all work ever shared. They always have extra pens and paper, or change for the photocopying or coffee machine. They can be a warm, compassionate person whose main objective is to make everyone feel happy, or a control freak.

As natural pragmatists, their opinions are respected by everyone and they rarely get caught up in cliques. They're unlikely to become a Disciple, Egoist or Joker. Attendance drops off when the PA goes away on holiday and shoots up when they return. If you're a forgetful person, make sure you sit next to the PA.

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