By Jen Seggio
“Critiques are an excellent opportunity to form and deepen relationships with fellow writers. It’s a chance to meet people who share the same goals and passion for kidlit while experiencing different voices and approaches to storytelling,” said McIntyre.
Brooke McIntyre, the founder of Inked Voices, gave an insightful talk about giving and receiving good feedback. Inked Voices is a platform for writers seeking online critique groups. The site also offers craft talks and workshops; McIntyre has facilitated more than 75 editor/agent workshops in the eight years since she created Inked Voices.
“Both sides of the feedback process are valuable,” said McIntyre.“Any writer who shares their work creates a relationship with a reader. Critique partners will be your first readers. Sharing your story sparks that connection.”
A successful critique respects the author, is actionable, and leaves the writer excited to revise.
McIntyre listed some advisable steps to take when writing a critique: • Go through the story several times beforehand.
• Jot down your initial reactions for yourself
• List what works for you:
How the context (the pitch or background information you’re given beforehand) compares to the story you’ve read, and what could use some improvement.
- Analyze your reactions
- Prioritize your observations
- Have questions for the authorCritiques don’t have to tackle every detail of the book. However, for the feedback you give, make sure to give the writer enough to latch on to. Be specific, using examples from the story, even for feedback that is positive. Avoid making assumptions about what stage the book is in as well. Stock lines such as “I recommend you study your craft and keep writing” are vague, generic, and unhelpful.
For writers submitting your work for feedback, be sure you know exactly what you want out of it first. Draft a simple pitch for your story and why you were inspired to write it. Be sure to share what you want your readers to take away from their reading experience.
If you receive feedback that makes you feel uncomfortable, put it away for a while and return to it later. Consider listening when multiple people raise an issue as well as when someone understands your vision. Trying a suggestion you disagree with can be a rewarding exercise.
Writers and readers are both just people who want to help each other out. Readers aid writers in translating the ideas in their head to the page. Cultivate your relationship-based critiques by fostering your relationships. Start discussions and make phone or Zoom calls.
McIntyre’s parting words, “Be friendly, forgiving, and give and receive feedback with an open heart.”
Jen Seggio is a pre-published author and illustrator from Staten Island, New York. You can visit her at www.jenseggio.com