Category Archives: Critique Groups


Imagine you have a manuscript that has been in progress for months. Every time you hear the last few paragraph’s read out loud the story falls completely flat. You can feel something is just not working.

Where do you go from here? Dump the whole manuscript and start over? Here are a few great suggestions from my writing group:

1. Write the story from a different character.

2. Write the story from the character at a different age.

3. Write the story from a different point of view (POV). Here is a great link to a blog that talks about POV.

I do know my story with this problem needs to be told. Maybe yours does too. And maybe, just maybe, working through the manuscript in a different way is the solution. I’ll let you know how it goes as soon as I get back to work on that manuscript! Let me know how your manuscript turns out!


More on POV:

More on character development:

Pamela Dowd has a wonderful downloadable character development sheet (actually 8 page) but asks all the right questions about your character. (For children’s book character development you’ll have to pick and choose what to answer)


Critique and Motivation Groups: Tools for Success

Errands, email, cleaning, and work can keep even the best writers from moving forward. Staying motivated to write when you are having an ‘i-am-not-a-writer-and-i-don’t-have-any-time’ kind of week is essential. I realize that not everyone is okay with sharing work or maybe just not ready, but for those that need an outside connection, these groups are essential.

A critique group can meet online or in person. You can find postings at your local library, coffee shop, or at online websites like A reasonable size group usually consists of four-five people or can be larger if you are comfortable with a larger group. The critique group is usually coordinated by a lead writer and once enough members are in place, the group can work together to determine meetings dates and time. You may prefer a group that is diverse with multiple genres or a single genre group like picture books, YA, non-fiction, etc. Some groups read manuscripts out loud, some do not.  I belong to one of each.

The motivation group has a different purpose, but is still essential. A motivation group helps you set goals, keep each other pushing through the tough times, and can be great cheerleaders for your writing. A great way to set up a motivation group is when you attend conferences, or take classes look around at the people you meet and determine if they can help support your writing. Or, you can even try to set something up with someone from your current critique group. Last year at my local SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators)Fall Retreat, I found a group of three amazing women to connect with. We now check in monthly to keep each other updated on our current goals and accomplishments. This blog would not exist if I hadn’t met these women. Thanks, Ladies!

Margot Finke has a wonderful three-part article on Part 1- Children’s Writers: Who Mentor’s Them Today?, Part 2-Writer’s Critique Groups: Where to Find Them, Part 3-Starting Your Own Critique Group

Another great place to check out children’s writing information is at