Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Everyone's a critic

When I attended the SCBWI Midsouth regional conference last month, I heard two gems of advice over and over again. The first of these was to join a critique group!

The prevailing wisdom passed down to me by authors, literary agents, and editors alike: New writers fear rejection--we're so fragile but think our work is a masterpiece. Veteran authors know it's part of the job--every manuscript needs rewrites, edits and polish. The way you travel from one perspective to the other is exposure to constructive criticism.

An ideal way to develop a tough skin, but also to improve your skills, is to link up with a group of like-minded souls who will read all or part of your work-in-progress (WIP) and offer constructive criticism.

This concept really appealed to me, so immediately after the conference I set about trying to find a local critique group. It didn't take long before other attendees with a similar goal started chatting, and I'm pleased to say we had our first official meeting today.

Truth be told, it went better than expected. Our group is small enough that everyone gets a decent chunk of time, and diverse enough that all children's book categories are represented, from picture books (that's me), to middle grade and young adult.

After going back through tonight's notes, I'll post some pearls of wisdom that I took from the meeting. But let me say that everyone who recommended a critique group was spot on. If the first meeting was any indication, this is going to be brilliant.


  1. Rock On! I feel the EXACT same way!!!

  2. Critique groups are such a good idea. I recently asked a blogger buddy (whom is writing a novel too) to critique my work and I'd critique hers. It's exactly what I needed. What's funny is I don't find my writing to be a masterpiece whatsoever. I welcome criticism! Why? Because I thoroughly enjoy writing a story and that's one thing that could never be edited.

  3. Thanks for sharing that experience, LH!

    I think criticism is a lot easier for people to accept when they've asked for it. But the true test comes when someone, invited or not, offers you a critique you don't agree with. Writers and artists can get very personal about their craft.

    As long as you keep an open mind (and it sounds like from your blog and your comments that you do) your critique exchange will likely work out well for both of you!