Wednesday, January 11, 2012

SCBWI WWA Great Critique 2012

It's that time of year again. Time for the Western Washington branch of the SCBWI to host its Great Critique. Now, if you're a kidlit author, and you aren't a member of the SCBWI, shame on you! Go to their website right now and sign up . Ok, on to the info.

This was my second great critique, and it was just as awesome as last year. I was put into a group hosted by published author Suzanne Selfors.
With me were two fellow writers, Ruth Dight and Tiffany Guerzon. Ruth is working on a middle grade boys fantasy/adventure. Tiffany, winner of the 2010 PNWA picture book literary contest, is working on a paranormal middle grade. Her website is .

I received the best advice. You know that middle grade book that I turned into a YA? Well, I was told it should be middle grade. So, I need to switch it back again. And you know what? It feels better that way. My fellow writers gave me great advice, and I can't wait to start more edits tomorrow.

Suzanne Selfors, author of Smells Like A Dog, was a wonderful host. She gave us great tips on what to look for when critiquing a fellow writer. First off, pay attention to the pacing. It will help a writer to say, "I was bored there" or "I dozed off there." Then they know where to focus. Plus, if you tell them what drew you into the story, they can elaborate on those points. Other things to ask yourself include: Did you understand the set up? Was there a motive and a feeling of what was at stake? Did the dialogue sound believable for the age group or time period? Answers to these questions will help a writer revise their manuscript.

One thing that Suzanne pointed out was a writer's habit of using too much detail.  She told us that detail is fine in the first draft, it helps the writer orient themselves. But, as you edit, you need to be willing to let some of it go.

Another piece of sage advice that Suzanne told us, "Everybody is writing a novel. So make the first few sentences or pages really stand out to grab an agents attention." For more info on Suzanne check out her website . She has two books coming out in 2012. The first is a YA romance/fairy tale, The Sweetest Spell.  It hits shelves in August. Next, in November, is the 3rd installment in her "Smells" series, Smells Like A Pirate.

I had a wonderful time. I have so much to work on that I feel like staying up late, but I know I need some sleep, so, goodnight.


  1. Such good tips -- I'm just getting into critique, looking for a critique group where I'll feel comfortable, and learning how to give feedback to others. This is helpful.

    Thank you!

  2. Great tips. Sometimes as a reader it's hard to judge if your feedback is going to help or hinder, and answering these questions seems like a great way to stick to the basics.