Children's writing

It Takes a Village, or Critique Group

Two members of my critique group are nearing the end of extensive novel revisions, getting ready to submit cover letters and sample chapters to agents and editors. Emails flew yesterday as the whole group chewed over the Big Revelation in Elsie’s ghost story. Between the six of us, we had probably four different interpretations of Elsie’s words. ‘Round and ’round we tossed ideas, looking for an effective way to show what Elsie had in mind, and to provide a believable resolution. It was heaps of fun and a wonderful collaborative effort. We are all invested in these two novels, though, technically, they belong to just two members.


As a group, we’ve come a long way, and I’m enormously proud of us. Last winter, after we’d read Elsie’s novel for the first–or maybe second time–we all felt that the main character’s vital relationships lacked foundation and an emotional connection. In fact, as a group, we felt our writing lacked the deep emotion we wanted to achieve.

So Elsie found a class on Empowering Character Emotion. She took it and liked it; our group discussed some of the ideas, and several of us purchased the course text. The instructor, Margie Lawson, offered another class in the spring on Deep Editing. Several of us took it, and others purchased the text. By working through the material together, we are able to push and encourage each other, and we have a common foundation of language and techniques.

It’s an exciting time in our critique group, and, of course, it makes me eager to get on with my own novel.

Categories: Children's writing

2 replies »

  1. And your picture is of six rocks washed by waves and shrouded in mist, but standing as a group. Pretty neat.