Guest Fridays With Karen Cioffi

      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
       children’s stories
       9.  Inappropriate actions on the part of the protagonist,
       specifically in the case of a young children’s story
       10.  Consistency
       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
       Critique Group.


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