Curious about critiques? Want to know what they’re all about? Meet Judith Snyder, the critique group coordinator for SCBWI Nebraska. If you want to connect with other local writers to create critique partnerships, Judith can help.
Critique Group? What’s that?
A critique group is a group of writers that focus on helping each other grow in their writing skills. It’s a bit different from other writing groups that focus strictly on improving craft. Although some critique groups do exercises to work on different aspects of writing (dialogue, setting, or plot, for example), critique groups also critique each other’s work in an effort to help improve it. See the resource list at the end of the page for information about how to critique writing.
Sound scary? It can be. But getting feedback on your work strengthens your writing skills and builds confidence. Many of the more successful members of SCBWI are critique group veterans. When considering starting or joining a group, please commit to at least one year to give the group a chance to get established. It’s not always easy to share your work with others until you feel comfortable with them and develop a trusting relationship.
Pick What Works for You
Consider what type of critique group you want and the amount of time you have to commit to it.
Online critique group – may be set up with a Google doc, Google Hangouts, Zoom (or other online video conferencing platform), or simply emailing each other submissions. Critiques are provided online. This works well for people with very busy schedules and those who live far from other members of their group.
In-person critique group – may meet weekly, monthly, or bimonthly depending on the group’s needs. Critiques are given verbally at the meeting (but pages are exchanged beforehand to give people time to read, think, and write comments). These groups not only forge new friendships, they provide support.
Informal meet-ups or occasional critique sharing – If possible, it’s nice to set up an initial face-to-face and then get in touch on an as-needed basis.
Then check out this OPEN CRITIQUE GROUPS document of a chart displaying new and existing groups looking for new members. If you are interested in being the contact person for forming a group, please contact Judith Snyder at: email@example.com with CRITIQUE GROUP REQUEST in the subject line, and include the information needed for insertion in the chart:
• Your name and email address as the initial contact person
• Times and locations for possible meetings (nearby town or city)
• Expectations for members, if any (What we should know about your group and the expectations of new members)
• List preferred genre / categories if any
• Note any entry process or expectation for new members
This will allow other people to contact you directly, but it doesn’t mean you have to be in charge of the group. Duties and expectations can evolve as your group grows. You might start with exchanging manuscripts with two people and grow to a larger group as others join.
Your information will be placed in the chart and will remain there until you tell us your group is filled. Please allow at least a week for your information to be included.
NOTE: Your inquiry gives us permission to share your email address and writing information with only SCBWI writers or illustrators interested in forming critique groups. Your name or your existing group name will be placed in the website chart with information about other interested members in our region or with information about established groups that are looking for new members.
Check out the Blueboard message board on the SCBWI webpage. There are several threads where you can find other writers or illustrators from all over the country who are looking for online members or just looking to exchange a critique.
1. After you log onto the SCBWI Website, scroll down and click on Blueboards
2. Read about how to use the boards and register yourself into the group.
3. In the Members Only section, click on Online Critique Groups or Critique Groups and Manuscript Exchanges.
CHART TERMS AND ABBREVIATIONS:
New Groups are those just being formed so you can be in on the ground floor of creating one!
Existing groups have been together for a while and are open to adding new members.
Category examples: Picture book, chapter book, middle grade, non-fiction, etc
Genre examples: Fantasy, historical, contemporary realistic, paranormal, dystopian, etc.
Illustrators can note: picture book illustration, covers, educational, etc, author-illustrator
PB = Picture Book
ER = Easy and Early Readers
CH = Chapter Books
MG = Middle Grade
YA = Young Adult
NA = New Adult
NF = Nonfiction
ILL = Illustrator
AU-ILL = Author-Illustrator
SP = Self-publishing
EMAIL NOTE: If your browser doesn’t open an email client for you to send an email, right-click the email address and see if you have an option to copy it. Then go to your email client and paste it into the TO: line. You can also point to the email address and it should display in the bottom left corner of your browser window for you to jot down.
Once the group is closed, please let Judith know to take your group off of the list.
OPEN CRITIQUE GROUPS (PDF)
(alphabetical by location)
Author, Lauren Kerstein created some great tools and templates that she has used over the years and has graciously allow us to share a pdf of her Picture Book Revision Checklist here. Peruse her website for information about novel plotting and other useful writing tools.
Improve Critiquing Knowledge-Online Resources (clickable PDF)