Critiques are Essential
By Karen Cioffi
As co-moderator of a children’s writing critique group, an
editor, and a reviewer for multiple genres, I read a number of
manuscripts and books. And, it’s always easy to tell which
authors haven’t bothered to have their work critiqued or edited.
My first response if asked what a writer can do to improve
her writing is always the same. The first step to honing your
craft and getting your manuscript ready for submitting to
publishers is to join a critique group. Even experienced authors
depend on the unique perspective and extra eyes that each
critique member provides.
The critique group can catch a number of potential
problems with your manuscript:
1. Grammatical errors
2. Holes in your story
3. Unclear sentences, paragraphs or dialogue
4. The forward movement of the story
5. Overuse of a particular word, adjectives, and adverbs
6. Unnecessary words that should be removed to help create
a tight story
7. Dangling teasers particular content in the story that may
leave the reader dangling if not developed and following
8. Inappropriate word usage, especially in the case of young
9. Inappropriate actions on the part of the protagonist,
specifically in the case of a young children’s story
And the list goes on and on. There are many more potential
problems to be watched out for when writing for children. It’s
near impossible for even an experienced writer to catch all
his/her own errors.
Your critique partners will also provide suggestions and
guidance. Note here, it is up to you whether to heed those
suggestions and comments, but if all the members of your
group suggest you rewrite a particular sentence for clarity,
hopefully a light will go off and you’ll pay attention.
Along with having those extra set of eyes to help you along,
you will begin to see your own writing improve. You will also be
able to find your own errors and those of others much quicker.
This will help you become a better and more confident writer.
Now, while the critique group does not take the place of an
editor, they do help you get to the point where you think you’re
ready for submission. At this point, it is always advisable to
seek an editor to catch what you and your critique group
missed. And, believe me, there will be something in your
manuscript that wasn’t picked up on.
When looking into joining a critique group, be sure the group
has both new and experienced writers. The experienced writers
will help you hone your craft just enough through their
critiques of your work.
If you haven’t joined already, join a critique group today.
Karen Cioffi is an author, ghostwriter (for authors, bloggers,
and business), freelance writer, editor, reviewer, and
acquisitions editor intern. She is also on the team of DKV
Writing 4U, and the founder and manager of VBT Writers on
the Move, as well as co-moderator of a children’s writing
Critiques are Essential