Now you’ve written a manuscript and went over it with a fine tooth comb. But you still don’t know if it’s ready to submit to publishers. That’s okay. I’m the same way. I want all the help I can get to give myself the best chance at publication. I have found that critique groups are great.
What is a critique group? It is a group of your peers you are willing to look over your text and give you an honest opinion on what they think of it.
How does a critique group work? There are different ways to get a critique. Some will give an overall view of you text. Some will give a line-by-line. Some will delve even deeper and go into plot, character traits, flow, ect. I like to get the last two, but have found that anything is a great help.
Where can you find critique groups? Start at your local library. See if there are other writers around. ***Trust me, the librarian will know!!!*** If you live in a rural area, turn to the internet! This works well for those who might live in a big city too, btw. There are writers forums on just about every list serve. Yahoo, AOL, MSN. I’ve also found that Verla Kay’s Blue Board is a great tool. There is also the Write 4 Kids Yella Board, SCBWI boards, and Critique Circle. All of these are great forums to find other writers.
Now, be picky about a critique group. Just like with book publishers, you want to match up your writing. It also helps if you can find someone with at least a little bit of experience to be in your group. I’ve also found that you don’t want too many people, but you do need enough to keep the group going. Remember when you get a critique that person will want you to return the favor.
Keep in mind that a helpful critique doesn’t require you to be mean at all. Giving help (and getting help) in a positive way helps make the revising process flow much easier.