Wednesday, May 23, 2012


The merits of critiquing are numerous. I am currently a member of two critique groups; a One-On-One and a Multi-Member group.  There are advantages to both.

The One-On-One: This is where another author and I agreed to submit twenty pages (completing a chapter if it ends within a couple of pages of that twenty page mark) via email for review of each other's work. We then determine a specified time to have a phone conference to offer suggestions on perfecting the work. We agreed to talk once every week, allowing no longer than two weeks pass without a session. This way, we will each have our complete manuscript reviewed within two months time.

The following critique criteria surface:Punctuation, Grammar, Ease of comprehension for the given age group that we are targeting, Semantics, Story Viablity, Character Depth and Pace. The intimacy of this one-on- one work review makes for a more in-depth critique, which we have both found incredibily useful. Our critique time is morely individually beneficial because our time is divided between just two writers, thus having more time to talk in depth with suggestions as to how to improve the work.

The Multi-Member critique group that I have also committed to is with SCBWI members.  SCBWI is the acronym for the Society of Children Book Writers and Illustrators. For information on critique groups in your area, visit

We meet locally once a month. Members wishing to submit work for review must email it prior to a submission deadline to be considered. In each meeting, we generally review one chapter from two or three writers, a short story and/or a  poem.  Writer/Illustrators also join us and offer their insights.

While there may be a lot to read and review for one meeting, there are lots of take-withs even if you are not the featured writer in that given month.  It is interesting to be among such talented individuals and to see their novels progress month after month.

A take-with from a Multi-Member critique group takes for in the variety of comments that your work receives. There becomes a commonality in people's view on aspects of your work that either make you want to edit your work further, or you can choose to side with the few that liked the segment that other writers thought needed some change(s). Either way, you come to realize the value of how your work is perceived and how you can make it a better read.

Generally Speaking: Independent of the size of the group there are a few rules to make critique groups run smoothly.  They are:

1.  Read the submitted work and have honest comments as to how to improve the work.

2.  Submit your work within the timeline offered or forgo your opportunity to be critiqued until the following month.

3.  Be kind/sensitive to the writer/author indicating what you like about their work and then go on to talk about what needs to be changed and why. Why a scene worked, or not, etc, with details. It is always good to end with a heartfelt positive comment. After all, writing is hard work, which we are willing to do, but not at the cost of being made fun of because we didn't see the proverbial forest for the trees.

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