I’ve been a critiquing machine in the past few months. So much so that I’m ready to start querying. Huzzah! I’ll be glued to my laptop screen for the next few months hoping for responses from agents and editors.
While I wait, I’ll continue writing new stories and sending them out for critique. Peer feedback is a critical step in the writing process. No, it’s crucial. You HAVE TO let others read and critique your work. It helps you hone and polish your stories tenfold. When I swap my picture book manuscripts with other picture book writers, I feel like I’m receiving gold.
It has been difficult finding fellow PB writers near me. I do meet up with one critique partner, but there’s strength in numbers when it comes to feedback. After a lot of thought, I researched online critique groups and found KIDLIT411 Manuscript Swap Facebook group, a closed group where kidlit writers exchange critiques and reviews.
I’ve interacted with a handful of solid critiquers there. I mean really talented writers with eyes for character arc and tension. I’ve already made improvements to my manuscripts based on feedback from members of the group. It’s amazing how helpful a fresh set of eyes is, and how my writing improves by wearing my critiquer’s hat.
In the words of Stephen King, “…writers are often the worst judges of what they have written.” VERY TRUE. We become so attached to our work that we may not recognize the gaps in our stories. I know everything about my manuscripts because I’ve shoveled sand from bucket to bucket to bucket, draft after draft after draft. I can tell you what my characters eat for breakfast, even if it’s never shown in the text. But a reader with no background knowledge of a story can easily pinpoint my oopsies and forgot about that’s.
It’s common for PB writers to write 10, 20, 30, or more drafts of one manuscript. This is a great frame of reference for me when determining if a MS is ready for submission. I ask myself, can I improve this story with another draft? When the answer is yes, I keep critiquing and revising.
Writing is about practice and persistence. I’ve written and revised two first drafts in the past week. Soon they’ll be off for critique and ready for more revision. Just keep critiquing, just keep revising, critiquing, revising, critiquing, revising…