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Writer's Critique Groups:
Where to Find Them

"Musings" for January 2005

by Margot Finke

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Part two of three

The Why:

Many talented and published writers rely on some form of outside checks and balances to ensure that their writing is the best it can be. The style, content, and quality of what they write is of paramount importance. This is where a good critique group is invaluable. Critique groups provide a level of overview and feedback that helps a writer prepare their ms. (manuscript) for an editor's sharp scrutiny.

The Search Criteria:

There are many different ways to find critique groups. First, look for a group that fits your needs. Like buying comfortable shoes, or exactly the right outfit, you might need to try on quite a few before finding the perfect fit. If you are a beginner at writing, try to locate a group that contains at least one or two advanced or published writers. You want to learn the writing ropes, and joining five or six beginners who are uncertain of how to proceed, won't be much help.

Note: Follow my own critique experiences, and those of others, in the examples below. Thanks to everyone who contributed information. However, due to space concerns, I had to trim some of the information provided.

Face-to-face Critique Groups:

Many writers form groups that meet in person on a regular basis. Small groups can meet in cafes, at private homes, local libraries, or during sunny days in the park. Join the SCBWI (Society of Children's Writers & Illustrators). Ask your local chapter if critique groups meet near you. Other writing organizations also offer critique groups for children's writers.

Real-time critique groups can be formed in a number of other ways. Bookstores like Borders, Powel's, or your cozy local bookstore, will often allow writers to meet on their premises. It can be a few writing friends who live close enough to meet, or members of a writing class that decide to critique each other's work after class.


Online Critique Groups:

One of the easiest and best places to find critique groups is online. Many members of children's writing lists, such as CW (Children's Writers), the Yella Board, and The Children's Book Writers Café form private critique groups. You can also go to Yahoo , click on "Groups," and choose from the ones they list. After you join, ask if there are critique group vacancies in the age you write for. Another option is an open critique group, like YAWrite. Members post their work directly to the site for any member to critique. OR, type "Children's Critique Groups" into Google, and watch your screen fill with a variety of possibilities.


Small Private Groups:

Small private groups often form after writers get to know each other, either in a College writing class, a writing conference, or online. Their styles mesh nicely, and they trust each other's writing judgment. Close friendships, talent, and a uniform goal, spur these tight-knot groups onto success.


The One-of-a-kind Critique Group:

This kind of group encourages the rebel in us. Writers here do not cling to the rules. They put ads in local newspapers, meet in bars, and talk to people in shopping aisles. The best way to describe these one-of-a-kind groups is to introduce you to writers who participated in them.


If you long to be in a supportive and helpful critique group, go where children's writers gather - online writing sites and web pages, writing organizations, writing conferences or college classes. Bookstores and newspaper adds also work.. Smile, schmooze, and let it be known you want to join a critique group for children's writers.

Happy Writing Mates.

Last month: First article in the series: Children's Writers: Who Mentors Them Today?

Next month: Third article in the series: Starting Your Own Critique Group

Margot Finke's biography and index to Musings.

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