Today the blog welcomes Sue Twiggs, your Manuscript Critique Group Coordinator since 2018. Since that time, she’s matched over one hundred SCBWI-Wisconsin writers in online critique groups.
I belong to two critique groups myself. Both meet virtually. Being in a critique group helped me learn how to self-edit. My group recognizes my writing strengths and flaws. They encourage me with their constructive criticism and suggestions. Even if I don’t initially agree, I usually incorporate the changes. Suggestions on early drafts are especially helpful when big revision is needed. My critique groups cheer me on when I share good news and offer sympathy when I experience rejection.
Here’s what two members have to say about their groups.
My critique groups are my community. They keep me going. Not to mention, they give me wonderful ideas and advice and are receptive to mine. — Jerrianne Hayslett
I am in several critique groups, one of which has met for over 20 years. Critique groups are so much more than fellow writers helping spot strengths and weaknesses in manuscripts. Members support one another, provide tips, and offer advice. It was a critique member who told me about an agent who liked the type of books I wrote and advised me to query her. I did, and she became my agent. Members have helped me choose titles for my books. They’ve offered valuable advice about promotion. And they’ve become devoted, lifelong friends, which is the greatest benefit of all. — Amy Laundrie
Finding a critique group is a benefit of your membership in SCBWI. Interested members fill out a short bio. I match writers by genre: PB, MG and Y/A. Picture book writers make up the bulk of the requests. I also have groups of PBAuthor/Illustrators. If I’m able, I match by experience, however that depends on openings in ongoing groups.
Occasionally people switch groups. Sometimes the first match doesn’t work. Some writers drop out once they realize the ongoing work a critique group entails. Life intervenes: sick parents, home schooling children, moving. I’ll rematch the writer in an ongoing group or merge two groups together that have lost members. Matching a writer with an ongoing group benefits both parties as they don’t have to start again from scratch.
What makes a good critique member? A writer who knows how to make their manuscript critique-ready and can give and accept feedback. A good critique member keeps all manuscripts confidential and does not share them outside the group. A good critique member does not copy story ideas from a fellow writer. I’ll go into detail on making your manuscript critique-ready and giving and receiving feedback in a series of monthly tips on the Google list-serv. If you’d like to know more now, check out this link.
If you’d like to contact me about joining a critique group or adding new members to your group, email me at email@example.com.
Thank you, Sue, for sharing your insights and for all the work you do. Getting and giving feedback is a crucial step in the creative process, no matter where you are on the path to publication.
Susan Twiggs is the Critique Group Coordinator for SCBWI-WI. She is a published poet and on the journey to publishing for children. She practices yoga and has taught for many years. She believes in the power of mentoring and sharing what we know with each other. Her critique group offers continued encouragement and constructive criticism. She co-founded a high school mentoring program, Pathway Partners that continues to support teens in finding their careers. As the CGC-WI she will facilitate members in finding and creating their own support system so they can be the best writers possible.