Why Critique is Worth Celebrating

 One of the most beautiful parts of writing Kidlit is critiquing. 

    "Um, hearing why your story sucks doesn't sound beautiful," you say. 

But that feedback, no matter how devastatingly true, even if it causes you to painfully rewrite a rhyming stanza or throw a character off a plane without a parachute, is critical to getting your story read. And that's what we all want...our lovely story babies in the hands of others as smiles spread on their faces at the fun in our words. 

    "Remember that time they suggested your story about a tree was actually about the process of grieving and then you cried for like two days?" you say like a wickedly popular 17-year-old.

That was amazing. A critique partner able to identify an emotion I didn't even realize I had infused into that story. Understanding my story's layers made writing a query letter easier too. The flipside is also true, a critiquer (just like any reader) may see a meaning behind a character's action that you didn't intend but is true to her read.   

Actual pen used to recently
kill a character.

    "Well, what's the best kind of critique group?" you say. 

Critique groups can come in all shapes and sizes. I have a group of four writers from 12x12 which exchanges pieces in email. Another group of four was set up this summer via the selfless offer of Hannah Holt to connect similar writers looking for partners. This group which I lovingly call the NeRDLes (because of our initials) works on google docs and is even brave enough to critique rhyme. Another critique group chats in a Facebook group and posts in Tapatalk. I also have some lovely critique partners always willing for an impromptu exchange. 

    "Why are you in so many groups?" you question with an unnecessary eyeroll. 

Groups often have a life cycle. Life happens...new babies...back to school... job changes... sickness... and your critique friends (and you!) may need to step back at times. A once busy group can turn to crickets. Members can change focus between picture books and longer works. Other times new opportunities may mean you need more support. As a PB Chat Mentor in 2021 I had a lot of manuscripts to polish. Since joining 12x12, I am successfully writing more drafts, and new manuscripts mean more critiques. I also try to not hit the same group with multiple revisions of a story, because it's no longer a fresh read. 

    "You are so right and have been incredibly convincing about the power of critique groups!" I type right after you have taken a bite of cruller, but I'm pretty sure that's what you were going to say. 

Want to celebrate the wonder of critiquing?! Join in PB Critique Fest. Sponsored by Brian Gehrlein and his PB Spotlight page, this is a chance to win a critique from an author, illustrator or agent and show your support for the kidlit community. Follow the #PBCritiqueFest hashtags on twitter to join in the fun. 

And THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU to all my critique partners out there who help me move my manuscripts forward. And THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU for letting me be a part of your work, too.