I decided to write a quick post about something that has been on my mind recently: critique groups!
Some of you may be familiar with how incredibly wonderful the KidLit community is. There is an endless supply of helpful authors, editors, and agents who are willing to answer questions and give advice. One of my favorite KidLit resources is KidLit411. They have a wonderful website and extremly helpful Facebook group. One of their Facebook groups is KidLit411 manuscript swap. If you haven’t used it, it’s a nice place to go and get a quick critique on your manuscript (MS) in exchange for critiquing someone else’s MS. The downside being: you don’t know these people or their writing/critiquing ability or level of commitment to your story.
Enter the Fall Writing Frenzy 2020 contest (if you’re not familiar with this event, it’s a contest where you write a Kidlit story inspired by a fall picture in 200 words or less!) I decided to give it a go this year as there are some FANTASTIC donors offering up MS critiques. Long story short, I happened to see someone asking for an MS swap for a 200 word Halloween-themed story on the MS swap group and figured they were writing for the contest, too.
A few short posts and some e-mail address exchanges later, and I have myself a Fall Writing Frenzy (FWF) critique group! But wait, it gets better… we decided we worked so well together we are starting our very own not-just-fall-writing-frenzy group!
I can’t speak to how well our FWF stories will be received by the judges because the contest hasn’t happened yet (check out Lydia Lukidis’ blog for more details), but let me tell you what I do know: my story is SO. MUCH. BETTER. than I could have written it on my own. Having an subjective audience, with different opinions, ideas, and experiences is an absolute gold mine for the writer. After all, we are told repeatedly that this is a subjective industry. Critique partners not only catch typos, they can offer up suggestions, tell you what’s not working, what IS working, ask questions, and bounce ideas off of each other.
We cannot write alone. We need critique partners, beta readers, editors, editors, editors, and most importantly – a support group. If the group you’re in isn’t a great fit, keep trying. When you find the right group for you, it will be worth its weight in gold!
Some things to check out: