There’s an interesting difference (or two) in critiquing novels compared to critiquing short stories…
- The short story is complete when it’s handed over, while the novel is usually still in progress.
- A chapter of a novel is only a section of a story while the short is self-contained.
The issue that poses trickiness for any crit group wanting to critique novels is how to critique – do you do a chapter at a time in sequence, or do you do chunks?
Critiquing novels may not suit some groups at all, but it can go well if you find what works best with how often you meet and how many words people can handle each session.
Aside from ‘mechanics’, a fellow writer recently described a much bigger issue for the writer: Put chapters out for critiquing as you write them and you may find the group’s feedback will change the direction of your story!
From personal experience
If you critique chapters one at a time or spread out over time, then I recommend each chapter comes with a short but comprehensive summary of ‘events to date’. This helps to jog the memory, and also helps to create context.
I do think it’s better to have more words down (or a sturdy outline if that’s your style) before you hit the crit, as this is easier for talking about the novel and answering questions.
I also think that considering who in your crit group falls into the audience for your novel, is helpful in getting the most from the feedback received.