When I decided to create and organize the Torrance Children’s Book Writing Group, I had only a vague notion of how the writing group was going to be. I needed a lot of information about how to get it started.
I surfed the net for articles on starting a writing group. The articles gave me ideas, but they didn’t give me the kind of information I really wanted.
It was a good thing I found Becky Levine’s book: The Writing & Critique Group Survival Guide: How to Make Revisions, Self-Edit, and Give and Receive Feedback.
- Paperback: 304 pages
- Publisher: Writers Digest Books (January 15, 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1582976066
- ISBN-13: 978-1582976068
- Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.3 x 0.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
About the Author
Becky Levine was a freelance manuscript editor for many years. She has participated in critique groups for almost twenty years as she worked on various fiction and nonfiction projects. She writes feature articles and book reviews for local publications, and speaks in depth about critique groups at writing workshops and conferences. She is a member of the Society of Children’s Books and Illustrators (SCBWI), Sisters in Crime (SINC), and the California Writers Club (CWC).
About the Book (Amazon.com Review)
“The Writing & Critique Group Survival Guide” presents the best way to create a respectful, productive writing or critique group, discussing all the important details of finding a group, running a critique meeting, and building a group that will evolve with its members. Each chapter, whether discussing plot or character or voice, teaches the writer how to read for a critique, learn from criticism, organize and prioritize feedback, revise based on the specific feedback they receive, and more. This title is perfect for writers and creative-writing students.
How the Book Helps Writers (Or My Review)
Writing is a lonely task, and most times, a difficult one. Starting a novel, revising a manuscript, and polishing magazine articles is hard work. Often, we writers get so close to our own work that we fail to see glaring errors, inconsistencies and little details that could either make or break our book.
Writing groups and critique groups help writers spot these errors and improve not only a particular manuscript, but their writing skills as well.
When I couldn’t find a writing group for children’s books writers in our area, I decided to create one. Becky’s book helped me immensely in structuring our group meetings.
The Writing & Critique Group Survival Guide is divided into six sections, which can help writers and writing groups at different stages of their writing. Each section also ends with helpful worksheets.
Section 1 is an introduction on the basics of a critique group. It helped me figure out how to choose the kind of group that was right for me, and gave me tips and instructions on how to set up and run a group.
Section 2 delves gives useful instructions on how to critique fiction—whether its for adult, young-adult or middle grade readers. It gives specific tips on how to critique for plot, character, point of view and voice, dialogue, description and scene structure. This was extremely helpful in our most recent critique session, as most of the words submitted for critique were fiction works.
Section 3 gives important instructions on how to critique non-fiction works like magazine articles, non-fiction book proposals, how to or self-help books, memoirs and travel writing.
I found Section 4 very helpful for our writing group. It talks about how to critique books for younger children such as picture books, beginning-reader books and chapter books. I’ve made handouts based on the tips, instructions, and lessons Becky has listed in these chapters.
Section 5 dives into what to do after all the critiques. It shows writers how to revise and self-edit based on the critiques they have received from their group members. Critique comments can be overwhelming and knowing how to make easy changes and even tackle the bigger revisions is a lifesaver for writers.
Section 6 talks about how to maintain an evolving group. The chapters include brainstorming topics, critiquing for submission, networking and promotion and even troubleshooting group dynamics. It provides valuable information for writing group organizers and leaders.
The best thing about The Writing and Critique Group Survival Guide is that each section comes with worksheets, sample critiques and examples. PDF downloads of the worksheets are even available for download here.
I would recommend this book for writers who wish to hone their editing skills and deepen their understanding of revision and editing. It is a most helpful resource, especially for writers who wish to either join or set-up their own writing group.
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