"Snippet" -- a small piece or brief extract
I used to write alone. I think most of us writers start out that way. Many writers are introverts to begin with. The ideas are ours, and we are taught by well-meaning friends and family to guard our ideas like pirates' treasure! We work hard at our craft and we perhaps worry that people will "steal them". Or perhaps sometimes we don't feel our words and ideas are "worthy to share" with anyone. We plant our Adirondack on a lonely island with a laptop and we pour out our hearts and souls on the computer (or notebook or . . .)
At some point, we join a "writers' community" -- maybe SCBWI (which I highly recommend if you're not part of that group) or we buy a writers' guide or something to try to move our writing from one level to another, and we begin hearing about critique groups and critique partners.
So why critiques?
1. Fresh eyes
We know what we mean to say and we think we're saying it well, but sometimes fresh eyes that don't know what we are trying to say are invaluable in helping us determine which pieces we're not communicating effectively.
2. Alternate perspective
Someone who is living a different experience than us can help us identify pieces that might be perceived negatively by someone different from us, and give us alternate ways to communicate in a non-threatening or non-offensive way.
3. Sharing resources
Oftentimes, my CPs and CGs will notice something I'm struggling with or I'll say, "I need to learn how to do ??? better", and they'll share webinars, books, articles, etc. that they've seen that might be helpful. Or, they'll shoot a heads-up, "I signed up for this webinar. You might like it too!"
4. Alternate wording/extra layers/fun elements
Sometimes we're so focused on getting a story written that we forget to add in those extra hooks/windows/layers -- figurative language, alliteration, onomatopoeia, refrains, etc. Critique buddies can alert us to the potential for adding in those fun elements or extra layers to take our stories up a notch (or 5 :-)
Two readers are better than one, and five are better than two. One of the big questions in my critique groups is, "What comps can you think of?" Or, just today, I saw a book highlighted on Twitter that reminded me of a manuscript written by a dear critique buddy and I sent her the link, and said, "Check this out. It might be a good comp for _____". There are so many great picture books out there, and no matter how vigilant you are with your reading, there's no way you can read them all. Put your heads together to craft the best set of comps for your stories.
Boy, don't we need a LOT of that in this business? It's grueling and often thankless, and full of rejection! We need some people in our corner that will say, "You're a wonderful writer and this is a wonderful story, and you'll get it there. Just keep going." or maybe to say, "You're beating this story to death. Give it a rest and come back to it later." or maybe to say, "This one's not ready, but I'll help you get it ready." or maybe to zoom in and drink a glass of wine or a cup of hot chocolate with you when you get those really heart-wrenching rejections.
7. Shared experience!
Because this business is so challenging and so unique, it helps to have someone else experiencing it alongside you -- to have someone who understands the idiosyncrasies and the ups and downs. Knowing you are not alone is absolutely essential to the tenacity and perseverance required to make it in this arena.
Those are my top 7 reasons why YOU should get yourself a critique, a critique partner, or a critique group! What reasons would you add? Put them in the comments for the benefit of others reading!
There are lots of opportunities to get critiques! Read on and find out how!
If you're on Twitter in any of the #amwriting communities, no doubt you've heard plethoras about critiques/CPs/CGs, etc. Sometimes it's hard to get started with these in the beginning, so here are some ways to get critiques and begin the search for a critique group if you're "in the market".
1. PBCritiquefest! @BrianGehrlein (Twitter)
hosts an annual critique event where you sign up via a Rafflecopter and have the opportunity to win critiques from authors/agents/other writing professionals. The link to sign up and learn more is here: https://www.pbspotlight.com/pbcritiquefest2021?utm_campaign=21be0d2f-ecd1-4873-82ed-6e4523431b31&utm_source=so&utm_medium=mail&cid=8a472a4b-6af1-4aaa-b55a-d52064448724
The more you participate, the better your chances of winning critiques!
2. Twitter contests!
There are almost always writing contests abounding on Twitter. Usually the prizes are brand new picture books or book swag or critiques for manuscripts or query letters. Currently, folks are prepping for Susannah Hill's Halloweensie. Check out the deets here:
3. Mindy Alyse Weiss runs a monthly critique train where you write a rough draft and get a critique from another author in the trenches. These are great ways to meet new people and possibly find folks that resonate with you for future critiques. The details are on her website here:
4. SCBWI -- If you've joined SCBWI, check out your local/regional chapter. Oftentimes, they have critique groups listed for your area. Or they have a person who can point you in the right direction.
5. Reach out on Twitter or FB writing communities to find other folks who are searching for CPs or CGs and create your own group!
Good luck and many blessings as you strive to become the best author you can be! Here's to fresh eyes, encouragement, and success! Cheers!
I've been a teacher of K-3 students for over 20 years; I'm also a writer of poems, short stories, devotionals and picture books. I'm wife to an amazing husband and mom to Sparkles, Mocha, and Rusty -- our feline fur babies . I love reading, writing, singing and listening to music. I enjoy nature, Bible study and spending time with friends and family!
Sign up above for a periodic newsletter (monthly or less) and updates to Snippets and PBJamz.