Friday, November 13, 2009

How I Created My Critique Group

by Hilde Garcia

In June of 2009, an email through SCBWI’s list server caught my attention: Members needed to join existing critique group. I had been searching for a group since February. After finishing the first draft of my first YA novel, I wasn’t sure what to do next. I emailed the person on the SCBWI list. She responded, “We already have twenty four replies. We are thinking about going with the first three, but how to choose?”

Then an inspiration struck. I wrote “Hey, why don’t we send out an invitation for a mixer. Bring two pages of a sample MS. We can go around the room and read them and then see how we all feel.”

Who knew that would have been so beneficial? About 12 people showed up and everyone’s stuff was good. A few other interested writers were out of town.

By the end of the night, we had two distinct critique groups. One group would meet on Tuesday evenings and the other group would meet on Saturdays. The three co-authors of this blog and myself joined the Tuesday group. Who sent the original email? Sue Berger.

Sue took the mixer one step further. When the other 10 people showed up at her place on a Saturday in August, she split those groups into two and divided the writers by genre. One group wrote YA and the other wrote Middle Grad and Picture Books.

The mixer created three critique groups and all are still meeting.

Since July, my Tuesday group has met every other week. We helped each other write amazing revisions. I couldn’t imagine not having them in my life now. (Did I mention they have saved my marriage?)

When my manuscript is published, I will write a long list of acknowledgements, but none will be more special than the three partners in my critique group who create my story with me.

Can’t find a group? Create one. It’s not hard. It’s like going on a date. You have to keep going until you find Mr. or Mrs. Right Group.

Since getting involved can be overwhelming, joining SCBWI Critique Connections Online is a great way to start!

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