I believe in the power of the workshop. The hard part is finding a group of writers you know and respect, and developing trust – trust that you will honestly comment on their work in exchange for an honest assessment of your own. If you’re lucky enough to have such a group, their help can be invaluable in pointing out the holes in your plot, the places where your characters are not acting true to form and of course, to red pen the thing to death so that stupid spelling and grammatical errors don’t get between you and a potential publisher.
I tried to find a group through the local writing association, but never did get connected with anyone. I eventually took a writing class at a community college and my group was pulled together from the students in that course.
We were a lucky group. The writers in our group are all very talented and reading their work was a joy. Because they were so talented, it was easy for me to take their wise comments and suggestions and put them to work in my book.
My group worked through email. None of us could find the time to meet and geographically we were too far apart to meet practically. Online may have provided the convenience we needed, but there were definite disadvantages to not seeing the faces of those who were giving feedback. You had to trust that the comments you were getting were honest.
There are many online workshop possibilities. Here are a couple. I haven’t tried them, but I might…
The Writers Online Workshop
Writing 2 Sell