Friday, September 19, 2014


So you spent months, even years, slaving away at a manuscript. You picked the right hook. Your first line is enticing. Your beginning set the stage. You jumped straight into the scene because you heard that's what agents want. You built your character with strengths as well as flaws. (You even contemplated whacking them off at the end. )Your plot is strong. Conflict is established - man versus man, society, nature, or self. The arc strikes an emotional response from the reader. Finally, a satisfying ending.

You revised over and over. Now what?

If you are not in a critique group, it is time to find one. Why? It's simple. It is an important component to your writing success. Critique Partners (CP) can help you find the faults in your draft and polish your work so it is ready for query status.

How do you choose the right critique partners?  

Do not find the "caterers." Those are the ones who cater to your feeling. The ones who tell you what you want to hear versus what you need to know. The one who is afraid you will break down and cry your poor heart out so it is easier to stroke your ego. Family members are out unless they made millions selling novels or have won major writing awards. Your family love you. They will not want to hurt your feelings. You want honest feedback. You want to know what it is you are doing wrong. You want the opportunity to correct it and make your manuscript marketable and saleable.

I have been in a few groups. At this time, I have some great critique buddies. I have the kind of buddies that tell me how to make the manuscript better. I also have some readers that I can send my manuscript to and get immediate feedback. But this all started because I build relationship. Critiquing is about building relationships.

If you are in a group where the members are always bickering, do yourself a favor and leave. Negative energy drains your creative spark. Establish rules from the beginning. Treat others the way you want to be treated. And be respectful of all time. Writing is not easy. And we all can benefit from love and support.

How do you find the group?

* Check various social media sites. WOW Nonfic on Facebook have critique groups for picture book writers. So check within other groups to see what they have available.

*Writing Conferences. After the WOW Retreat 2014, I came home with new friends and a boatload of critique buddies. The connection I made with these ladies was unbelievable. Now I always have someone to read and give feedback if needed.

*Writers Associations have local chapters in your area. Give them a call. Find out when and where they meet. And if they do not have one, you start it.

In summation, think about your critique groups. Are they beneficial to your writing? Do the members of your group write in your genre. Think about it. If you write picture books and your critique group are young adult authors, this group may not be right for you. Picture book writing and young adult writing are not the same. In picture books, every word counts. In young adult, you have more words with which to play. So now and find the right group. Let us know if your group is right for you.


  1. Thanks Jackie! This is a helpful post.

    I appreciate my poetry critique partner, and my two groups.

    Plus, I send my work out to specific readers when it limns a specific topic, such as history or disability, to hear about their viewpoints on word choice, tone, etc.

    Wishes for thorough crits. to everyone!

  2. Great article Jackie! Good advice. The retreat certainly did establish wonderful connections and friendships. Honesty and respect 2 very important ingredients needed.

  3. Good article, Jackie! Thanks for setting us up with Wow 10 Critique group. It was so good to finally meet you in person. Such a dynamo!!

  4. Thanks for the advice, Jackie! It's wonderful when you find a group that works well together. I've been in a few different groups, and have found that it's so important to put as much effort into critiquing another's work as you would into reviewing your own pieces.

  5. As one of your critique partners, I read this with a little 'baited breath!' I'm happy that you and I seem to be a good fit!