I’ve belonged to a writer’s critique group for nearly a decade now, and I find the feedback invaluable. We are all members of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). We represent a wide range of ages and genres, from picture books to young adult novels and from historical fiction to fantasy to realistic stories.
For nearly a decade, we have met monthly in a local library (or more recently through Zoom). Members who want feedback on their work submit a picture book manuscript or chapter from a novel about a week ahead of time. Typically, between two and four of us submit material for review each month. We provide round robin verbal critiques during the meeting, along with written comments that we each share with the author.
Feedback from my critique group friends helped me improve two picture book manuscripts that later got accepted for publication—One Leaf, Two Leaves, Count with Me! (Nancy Paulsen Books/Penguin, 2017) and my latest book, Raindrops to Rainbow (Penguin Workshop, 2021). I never submit anything until it has been vetted by the critique group. As writers, we get so immersed in our projects that sometimes we need objective, outside feedback.
Our critique group also serves another important role—we provide a support system to one another. We celebrate when a member gets something published, and we offer support when a pet project gets rejected. We have become friends, and we often travel together to writing conferences or writing retreats. Critique groups may not be right for every writer in every circumstance, but for many writers they fill a vital role. If you are interested in forming a critique group in your area, your regional SCBWI representative may be able to help you identify some prospective members. Happy critiquing!