Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators


Peer Critiques

Saturday, August 7, 2021
10:00am – 12:00pm PDT / 1:00 – 3:00pm EDT


One week after the conference and all for free!

Take what you’ve learned  and polish up your work-in-progress. 

Receive feedback from your peers and connect with fellow conference attendees!


An added bonus for all Big Five-Oh participants: 


We are offering a peer critique session at no charge to all conference attendees. You must register for the session when you register for the conference. You will not be able to add the peer critique after the fact.


What happens in a peer critique?

  • Attendees will join Zoom meetings divided by genre.
  • Hosts will split attendees into breakout groups of no more than six people.
  • Each breakout group will appoint a timekeeper.
  • Each writer will read their first two pages (up to 500 words) out loud. (Writers may want to “share their screen” so that the other group members can read along.)
  • Each group member has the opportunity to give the writer feedback on their pages.
  • Participants are encouraged to use the ‘sandwich method’ to give feedback, i.e., say what they see as strengths of the story, then what they think could be improved, and end with something else they think is strong or repeat the strengths they’ve already pointed out.
  • The person sharing their work is encouraged to listen and take notes.
  • Discussion is encouraged. Feel free to agree or disagree with others’ views on the author’s work. (Except if you are the author, in which case, just listen.) 



Some questions to ask yourself as you review others’ work: 

  • Is the ending satisfying? What emotion does it leave you with?
  • What is the main character’s overarching trait? How can it be emphasized?
  • Does the character face obstacles in their quest to get what they want?
  • How does the story relate to the emotional world of a child, adolescent, or young adult?
  • What is the story problem? Whose problem is it?
  • Is the voice didactic? Does the main character solve their own problem?
  • Is the story illustratable? (for picture books)
  • Is the character revealed through narration or dialogue or in some other way? What way would work best?
  • If the pages are a rhyming picture book or book in rhyme, does the story scan (have a regular meter)? Is the rhyme perfect? Does the rhyme lead the story? Are there examples of weak or forced rhyme?
  • What do you especially like? What do you really think needs changing? 


Of course, there are many other questions to ask, but this gives you a starting point.