Please make yourself familiar with these guidelines prior to participating in the group.
Prior to all meetings. Be sure to check the event calendar for details.
6:00 PM – 7:00 PM CST
In-person or Hybrid Meetings: Tracy Gee Community Center
Virtual Meetings: On Zoom. Link will be on the event details page, see Event Calendar.
Who: Authors and illustrators of all levels
What: An informal critique group to meet before all chapter meetings. For meetings which are also held at the Tracy Gee Community Center, the group will meet in person. For virtual-only meetings, the group will meet on Zoom. All written and illustrated works-in-progress intended for the children’s market are welcome.
Preparing for Critique
✏️ One manuscript per participant limited to a maximum of 5 single-sided pages OR 2.5 pages printed front and back
✏️ Formatting Your Manuscript:
✔️ Print on 8½ ” x 11” white paper in black ink,
✔️ Use a 12-point Arial or Times New Roman,
✔️ Number pages consecutively,
✔️ Double spaced, and with
✔️ Minimum 1-inch margins on all sides.
✏️ Bring a minimum of 5 copies of your manuscript
✏️ Bring paper and pen to take notes
Running the Critique
1. Arrive on time! Critique begins at 6:00 PM. Critiques will go in the order of arrival. Late arrivals will be added to the end of the critique line-up as time allows.
2. Keep it manageable. If seven or more participants attend, consider breaking into two or more groups.
3. Select a timekeeper. This person will divide time equally based on the number of participants and keep the group within the time given. Approximately 8-10 minutes is needed per person to read and provide feedback.
4. Read the manuscript aloud. Each participant should read work by another author and never their own work. This allows the creator to hear their story in a voice other than their own and take note of what’s working and what’s not.
5. Share the duties of reading aloud. Don’t worry if you feel you aren’t good at it–this is a supportive space and you’ll get better the more you practice. This is a great opportunity to hone public speaking skills, so that when you’re published you can feel confident reading to your young fans!
6. Hold responses until the end. When it’s your turn to be critiqued, don’t speak until all feedback is complete. At the end you’ll have an opportunity to respond to questions, clarify, and/or ask further questions of your own. Please remain mindful of your remaining time.
7. End on time! The group must end promptly at 6:30/7:00 PM for the chapter meeting. Please move the critique table back to its original location (ask a RT member) and depending on the number of seats available for the meeting, either add the chairs to the last row or put them away.
Giving and receiving critiques is a learned skill! Use these tips to help you get the most out of both giving and receiving feedback.
Critique Golden Rule:
Respect the work and privacy of your peers as you would want them to respect yours.
✏️ Be aware of the time limit and keep feedback concise.
✏️ Use the Sandwich Method. This places one criticism of the work between two positive comments.
✏️ Feedback should be constructive and focused on the work, never personal. Ex:
✅ “The main character has such a strong voice, but I didn’t feel it came through as well on page 2.”
❌ “This is stupid.” or “You shouldn’t do…”
✏️ Keep feedback at a high level. This group is not best suited to detailing grammar or sentence structure. It’s best to keep feedback focused on larger, structural issues–what is working (or not) and why.
Consider these items/questions when giving feedback:
👉 Character development
👉 Is the work in line with industry standards?
👉 Is content and word choice appropriate for the intended audience?
👉 Where did you feel emotion or connection with the character? Where would you like to see more?
✏️ Write notes and comments on your copy of the manuscript for the author. You may also put your name and even your email on the top so they know who the comments came from in case they want to discuss further. Be sure to return all copies of the manuscript to the author.
✏️ Receive feedback gracefully, even if it stings. Remember: this is meant to help you polish your work to the greatest extent possible.
✏️ Say thank you. Even when a critique is painful, remember to thank those who took the time to give feedback.
✏️ You don’t have to apply every item of feedback you receive. Take a day or more to consider the feedback before deciding what to apply and how. Critique can show when something isn’t working, but doesn’t always give the correct solution.
For more information about nurturing a successful critique group, be sure to read Linda Sue Park’s “Give and Take of Critique” on page 35 of The Essential Guide to Publishing for Children.