Writing Journal: Got Critique Group?

Recently I met with three talented children’s book writers. We read each other’s works aloud, made comments and suggestions, while encouraging what worked — all over three intense days. I was the newbie trying to find my strongest voice between YA, MG, and picture books. Having the input and support of peers was invaluable (more on that later).

As a novice in the world of writing for youth, one thing I’ve learned thus far: writing quality fiction is far harder than it appears. Like in many fields, the pros make it look easy. It’s not.

And having a journalism background is good and bad. Yes, I can meet deadlines, put words together in an informative even entertaining way, and edit a little better than some. But I also have to break some common journalistic writing habits. I can’t give everything away at the beginning (crushing my inverted pyramid) and be overly descriptive (telling). I must trust the reader to follow the action and discover what they must, along the way (show). Easier said than done. I’m still trying to figure this out!

Having other sets of eyes, those who are honing their own children’s fiction writing craft, has helped me take a step further in improving my own storytelling. Experiencing feedback from a trusted critique group and giving it, gave me a vision for what I need to do in the following months.

So, E.J., Julia, and Jennifer, THANK YOU! (And you’re all so fun, too. I miss you already!) I wish we were closer to continue what we started. But at least a taste of what we had whet my appetite to want more. My goal in the next few months will be to find a local group that is going through the challenges and joys I face, as we do what we love: write for children.

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Lara says:

    I echo your thoughts here. I think writers underestimate the value of a good critique group – until they find one. I failed as a writer for years. And then I joined in a critique group. Now, about 90% of my work that they read and comment on gets published. The group I’m in is an eclectic mix – one children’s fiction writer, one adult fiction writer and three of us non-fiction gals. Each of us brings different skills to the table and for that, all of our work is improved.

    Yay! that you got to experience the joys of a crit group. I’m praying you find a wonderful local group soon (if you lived in Chicagoland, I’d beg you to join us).


    1. asukwang says:

      Wow, what a difference a crit group has made for you – yea! I’m hoping for the same. I must also mention, I meet with Viv M. and Karen Y. from the Redbuds every month. And tho’ they don’t write in the same genre, their author eyes are another kind of gift in my writing journey (more on that later, too!) And if I ever move to Chicagoland, I’ll be knocking down your door to join! By the way, I love that you and Helen call your world “Chicagoland” 🙂 It must be a Chicago thing, or just Redbuds, or just you two?


      1. Lara says:

        It’s a Chicago thing (although I guess I’d never realized it). : )


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