Thoughts on Critique Groups

One of the things most valuable to me as a children’s writer is meeting with my critique groups. Among the benefits I find are:

--connecting with others who are serious about writing for children

--feedback on my work from writers who know about writing for children

--a deadline to have something written or re-written

--a push to get finished manuscripts sent out to publishers

--sharing current marketing news and tips

--encouragement from hearing about others’ accomplishments and good news

I always go home feeling full of determination and enthusiasm!

Here are a few Suggestions for Critique Groups:

1—If you are a children’s writer, join a group compiled of other children’s writers. The process of writing for children is different than writing for adults, and feedback from writers who write only for adults can sometimes be off the mark.

2—Depending on how much time you have to meet, you will probably want to limit the size of your group to give everyone time to read their manuscript out loud. If time is tight, you might allow a set amount of time for reading out loud, and for offering comments.

3—When critiquing someone else’s manuscript remember to offer feedback on what you feel is good about the manuscript, as well as suggestions for changes that you feel would improve the manuscript. It helps to know when something works!

4—Offer comments in a positive way. You are critiquing the manuscript, not the writer. Remember that feedback given and received are opinions, and the final decision is up to the writer. Opinions, however, are based on experience and knowledge of the field of children’s writing.

5—Show up even if you don’t have something to read. Others count on your input, and you will go home replenished with determination to keep writing!

Links to some online articles on Critique Groups:

Peggy and Karen, writing buddies

Indiana Skype Critique Group: (back) Fred, Katie, Peggy M, Peggy A, (front) Mary Ann, Karen

Merrillville Writers Group: Kathy Doherty, Karen Kulinski, Melissa Mangrum, Charlie Wierzbicki, Peggy Archer

For Writers

Recommended Reading

Books for Children’s Writers & Illustrators:

Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market by Alice Pope. Updated yearly. Also includes markets for young writers and illustrators.

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Publishing Children’s Books by Harold D. Underdown

Creating Characters Kids Will Love by Elaine Marie Alphin

How to Write a Children’s Book and Get It Published by Barbara Seuling

Writing for Children & Teenagers by Lee Wyndham

How to Write and Illustrate Children’s Books and Get Them Published by Treld Pelkey Bicknell

The Business of Writing for Children by Aaron Shephard

Take Joy: A Book for Writers by Jane Yolen

What’s Your Story?: A Young Person’s Guide to Writing Fiction by Marion Dane Bauer

Poetry Matters by Ralph Fletcher (juvenile book, good for grown-ups, too)

Publications for Children’s Writers & Illustrators:

Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI). Membership benefits include a bi-monthly newsletter with up-dated market news and articles. See, or write to 8271 Beverly Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90048.

Children’s Book Insider. A monthly publication. See or write to 901 Columbia Road, Ft. Collins, CO 80525.

Links to Websites for Children's Writers & Illustrators