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Workshop Transcript

Eek! A Critique! (On-Line Crit Groups)

with Verla Kay

 

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*** Verla has set the topic on channel #Kidlit to EEEK! A Critique! Writer's workshop tonight

Verla: Hi, everyone

*** Windy2u has left channel #Kidlit

_Lyra: hi, V

_Lyra: I really love your title, V

Verla: Thanks, lyra...someone else said it once...

Verla: and I loved it and asked permission to use it

Verla: Wow. Am I THAT offensive? <discreetly sniffing underarms...>

_Lyra: you mean because few people here?

_Lyra: They're all out buying or wrapping holiday gifts

Verla: lol

NOTE: lol = Laughing Out Loud

_Lyra: or just late....

Verla: I meant because as soon as I came in Windy said Hi...then Poof! Gone!

*** Windy2u has joined channel #Kidlit

Verla: Hi, Windy. Welcome back. Gee...I didn't know I was THAT smelly....

Verla: to make you run out SO fast...

NOTE: Several more people just joined the #Kidlit room...

Verla: goodie. LOTS of early people to help set up the room

Suzy-Q plops in easy chair.

Dani257: I'll test the mike. I'm too tired for heavy work

Verla: Ah...thank you, dani

Verla: I need a glass of water!

Windy2u: I'll get the water..

Windy2u: with lemon Verla?

Verla: Oh, thank you, windy....yes!

Suzy-Q gets Verla a glass of water... Oh, I tripped now Verla is wearing it...

Verla: awk! We have SNOW outside still, sq. NO water on me...I'll freeze and you won't get the workshop

Kimmm33: I heard about your web site

Verla: thanks, windy

Kimmm33: so I'm here tonight as a vistor

Verla: great..I'm glad you could make it tonight, kim...we are starting our workshop in about 7 minutes

Kimmm33: what is the topic tonight?

Verla: Eeek! A Critique! Kim

Kimmm33: How does work?

Verla: I'll be the leader tonight, kim. And I'll ask questions & make comments, then all of you put in your comments & questions in response. If they come too fast, I'll ask you to wait while I catch up. Anyone who has had experience or has questions is encouraged to participate

Verla: Okay..everyone, two minutes to workshop time

Suzy-Q: small group tonight.

woolfff1: I'm so glad to see this topic.

Verla: Please hold all hello's and goodbye's until the workshop is done...and no personal chatter once we begin. But you are Encouraged to join in the topic discussion!

Verla: grin...I hope you are all here for the RIGHT topic...we had to make a switch at the last minute. Our bride wasn't ready this week for HER topic. So we are doing the one on Critiques tonight and her workshop on Finding More Markets next week.

Verla: This critique session will focus on ON-LINE critiques, unlike most critique sessions which talk about critique sessions in "person"

Dani257: Is it time? Testing testing

Verla: Yes, it IS time.

*** Verla has set the topic on channel #Kidlit to EEEK! A Critique! Writer's workshop IN PROGRESS

Verla: Okay Everyone...EEEK! A Critique! workshop is now in session

Verla: For anyone who doesn't know me...my name is Verla Kay and I write mostly picture books

Verla: I have five of them under contract (or almost under contract) with G.P. Putnam's Sons

NOTE: Verla has since received an offer on a sixth book to Millbrook Press. :-) = (Sideways Happy Face)

Verla: I am the member of an on-line critique group which has been successfully active for over a year now.

Verla: Clara...do you remember when we first started our group?

Verla: Clara (aka Robin) and Dori (who just popped in and then left again) are also member of the *STARS* critique group

NOTE: You can see pictures of most of the members of Verla's on-line critique group in the Stars Pictures page (via the About the Author page) of this website.

Verla: There are some major differences between "on-line" and "in person" crit groups

Verla: anyone know what they are?

woolfff1: There are no gestures and facial expressions to soften words.

Verla: Good, woolf! That's one major difference...no vocal inflections, either

Verla: Also...you don't have to "face" the person you are critiquing

Verla: that can make it easy to be too harsh

Verla: Okay...WHAT IS A CRITIQUE?

Verla: Anyone?

Kimmm33: feedback

woolfff1: analysis?

Verla: good, Kimmm and woolfff

Verla: anyone else?

Windy2u: someone's opinion...

Verla: yes!

Sammeow: positive criticism

Verla: VERY good responses..

Verla: A critique is an evaluation of your manuscript by a friend, relative, collegue, or professional person. Some you pay for, others are given out the goodness of the person's heart. It's really tough to hear someone else's vision for your story, especially when it's not even close to your own, and it is always important to remember that when doing a critique for someone else.

Verla: Okay...now comes the hard questions

Verla: (one question...that S just kind of snuck in there when I wasn't looking!)

Verla: Sneaky S

Verla: Who can give one? (A critique?)

NOTE: Deafening silence...no one answered this question. Must have been harder than Verla realized! <Grin>

Verla: ANYONE can give a critique. Some people are more adept at it than others, mostly because they have had more practice.

Verla: If you think that YOU are not qualified to give critiques, though - perhaps because you are not published yet - THINK AGAIN.

Verla: How many of you have never given anyone a critique..anyone?

woolfff1: only a few

Kimmm33: not on-line. only at college

Verla: okay...

Verla: You must remember that you do have something to offer! YOUR opinion. And that's ALL critiques are, after all. ONE person's opinion. Whether the person doing the critique is published or not makes no difference, as long as the person is actively trying to better your writing.

Verla: Okay...let's talk about the different KINDS of critiques there are

Verla: Did you realize there are different kinds?

Verla: What are they?

Verla: (I need YOUR feedback, folks...jump IN here)

_Lyra: Not sure what you're looking for--but sometimes I'll give a detailed line-by-line critique and other times I'll give an overall perception opinion

Verla: right, lyra!

Verla: Some just give you an overview of the entire manuscript and these are the ones that are most helpful in the very early planning stages of a story.

Verla: As: "The story was cute, but overall, I think it was too weak for a publisher to pick up. You might want to think about spicing up the plot-line by adding another major problem for the main character to overcome in order for this story to become more special to the reader."

Verla: The next stage of a critique would be a line-by-line critique. While these kinds are easy to do with a pencil and typed manuscript, they become a little more difficult to make the meaning clear when using only e-mail and a computer. There are ways to make your meanings clear, and we will be going over them one by one in this workshop.

Verla: It is important that the recipients of your stories know that you have a manuscript you wish to have critiqued. This is best done via the subject line. Manuscripts I send to my critique group (we call ourselves the *STARS*) that I want to have critiqued, have this in the subject line:

Verla: Re: *STARS* MSS/Title of Story

Verla: This is VERY important in on-line crits...so the recipient can identify your submission and not delete it by accident

Verla: When this comes in their mailboxes, my critique buddies know immediately that I have sent them a manuscript needing a critique.

Verla: When I do critiques of others' manuscripts, the subject line reads like this:

Verla: Re: *STARS* CRIT/Title of Story

Verla: When this shows up in their mailboxes, they know I've critiqued a fellow *STARS* work and they can open and read it when it is convenient for them.

Verla: And just for the record, we have found that it works best if all of the members send their critiques to ALL other members, not just to the one person whose manuscript is being critiqued. It's amazing how much each of us learns from reading what other people said about so-and-so's manuscript, compared to what WE said about it. This "sharing" of all our ideas and knowledge has certainly made for a lot of wonderful growth in each of us.

Verla: Another kind of critique would be one in which you give mostly punctuation/grammar suggestions. These are usually the last kinds of critiques to be given, after the plot and words within the story are all working well.

Verla: okay...questions? comments?

Kimmm33: how do you get involved in a group?

Verla: I got mine by posting a request to the CW list, kimm. I got over 65 replies...people wanting to be in on-line crit groups.

Verla: CW = Children's Writer's list, by the way

Verla: Instructions for signing up to it are on this website on the Writer's Tips page.

Kimmm33: thanks

ThereseW: How did you choose out of the 65?

Verla: I picked the people who wrote the same kind of stuff I did, Therese. Picture books...and rhyming stories. Also, I narrowed it down to those who were interested in doing some crits in a chat room

ThereseW: Why the chat room emphasis?

Verla: because I personally wanted us to be able to come into the chat room and do brainstorming sessions at times

Verla: which we have done

ThereseW: Is this very useful?

Verla: we used it at first..but found just like "in person" critique sessions, it wasn't practical for all of us to meet at the same time regularly..

Verla: so we rarely do that any more

Sammeow: You mainly use e-mail?

Verla: also...when others would pop into the chat room...we couldn't work effectively. So now we ONLY use email, yes, Samm

guest-Lyn: Is there an optimum maximum number for the group?

Verla: We have found that 9 is about the maximum number we can accomodate

Verla: I would say six to ten would be a good number

Verla: Okay...What makes a Good Critique?

woolfff1: balance?

Verla: explain what you mean by balance, woolf...

guest-Lyn: Positives and negatives?

Verla: yes, lyn!

Verla: Is that what you meant, too, woolf?

woolfff1: For some reason the room is not allowing me to communicate. I will only listen.

Verla: A good critique will be like a "sandwich." Something good on the outsides, with the "meat" or critisisms in the middle. Start it out by telling the writer what was GOOD about the story. Then tell the writer what you think would make the story better. Finish off with another positive note and you will make your comments much easier to "swallow." (It's ALWAYS hard to accept critisism of our work, no matter how much we "think" we want it.)

_Lyra: The "sandwich" explanation is good, V

Verla: there are some things you should ALWAYS do in an on-line critique....anyone know what they might be? (These can be things that are both for the giver of the critique and also for the recipient)

Verla: ALWAYS be truthful. You are not being "nice" to someone if you tell them their story is terrific and it's not. Your goal as a critiquer is to give the writer ideas and insights into his story that he might not have thought of on his own. Ideas that might improve his work to make it more publishable.

Verla: ALWAYS tell the writer what is GOOD as well as what is wrong with the manuscript. Is the story REALLY bad? TERRIBLE writing? Extremely amateurish? Okay..then don't say anything about THOSE things at first. Instead, look for what the writer DOES have a good grasp of.

Verla: For instance, does it have a good title? Is there a lively character in it? Is the main IDEA of the story fun and interesting? Does the writer have a knack for realistic dialogue or great description of scenery or a good "feel" for how young children think?

Verla: Then mention those positive things! Once you have pointed out the good things in the writer's story, then you can go on to bring up those points that you think would improve the story.

Verla: ALWAYS remember that a critique, whether you are giving it or accepting it, MUST feel "right" to the writer, or the advice will be and should be ignored. Just because YOU would have written that sentence a certain way, does not mean that it is the ONLY way that sentence should be written, nor does it mean that the writer MUST take your advice. ALL critiques should be considered as "SUGGESTIONS" and they should always be treated as such!

woolfff1: But do you rewrite the ideas and sentences as I've seen done?

Verla: You mean *How* do we indicate in the manuscript what is to be changed, woolfff?

woolfff1: Well, I've seen crits that actually rewrite another's work.

_Lyra: I have had an editor who once changed my style on EVERY page--mostly syntex changes

Verla: Each person will have a unique way of critiquing...that's why they are so helpful. Ah....I see what you mean, woolfff

Verla: I'm getting to that

Verla: ALWAYS try to get more than one opinion on a manuscript. If one person says your main character feels "stiff" and "stereotyped," it might not necessarily seem that way to someone else. But if several people all say the same thing, then you may want to consider seriously thinking about what they are telling you. There may well BE a problem there that you need to fix.

Verla: ALWAYS give a critique that you would want to receive. Before you say, "This story stinks and doesn't have a prayer of a chance of ever getting published," think how YOU would feel if someone said that to YOU about one of YOUR favorite stories. Instead, try to phrase your comments in such a way that the writer can accept them without feeling crushed.

Verla: For example, you might want to rephrase my previous comment to say, "You may find publishers reluctant to accept a story with so much violent content in it. Had you thought about perhaps having some of this violence take place behind the scenes, before the book begins?

Verla: If you were to focus more on what Kevin does AFTER his family is brutally murdered, how he struggles to make some sense of his shattered life, instead of focusing so much on the actual act of murder, this might be a much more enticing story to editors."

guest-Lyn: Verla is a diplomat!

Verla: LOL

Verla: Funny, lyn

--> Verla LOL = Laughing Out Loud

Verla: Are there any questions about what you should ALWAYS do?

Verla: (Then we will get on to what you should NEVER do...and YOUR comment, Woolffff)

Verla: I personally do NOT think you should EVER try to "rewrite" completely someone else's story, Woolfff...unless you are being paid to Ghost Write it

guest-Lyn: Verla, you're also saying to offer a suggestion for improvement, not just a "that stinks."

Verla: right, lyn!

Verla: I try to always give a positive suggestion for each "negative" comment

Verla: but I also make it very clear that the suggestions are ONLY SUGGESTIONS!

Verla: What *I* think and feel is just *MY* opinion...

Verla: and it is SO important to always remember that

Verla: Okay...here are the "NEVER DO's"

Verla: Here are the things you should NEVER do in an on-line critique group

Verla: NEVER try to mold someone else's story into a story YOU would have written. Your job as a critiquer is to make suggestions that will assist the writer to develop HIS style, HIS story, to the best of HIS skills.

Verla: NEVER automatically assume that what someone else says is "law" and that just because a "professional" or "published" person said you have to change your character's name from Sharon to Charisse, that you have to do it. That professional person may have had a best friend named Sharon in high school that stole her boyfriend away from her and the name may feel uncomfortable to her because of it. YOU are the best judge of what will work in your manuscripts.

Verla: NEVER get upset if someone doesn't use the suggestions you made about their manuscript. Remember that it is THEIR story, not yours, and ultimately the story has to be what *they* feel is right.

Verla: NEVER argue with a person who is doing a critique for you. Don't try to defend what you have written. Don't act "immediately" on another person's suggestion. Give yourself time to think about what the person was trying to convey to you with their critique of your manuscript. And remember, ultimately, the decision to change your story is UP to YOU. YOU are the author.

Verla: Anyone else have any other NEVER's to add?

Windy2u: Never forget to say thank you....

Verla: GOOD, windy!

Verla: It might also be a good idea to NEVER send your critter a mail bomb, too....

Verla: (I'm speaking of an email bomb, of course)

ToniBuzzeo: And, to follow up on Windy's comment, never forget to ask questions where you are unclear about suggestions.

Sammeow: If you can't "defend" can you at least explain the reasons for doing something?

ToniBuzzeo: Sam, sometimes asking questions is a way to clarify, don't you think?

DonaV: Sammeow, I don't think you should explain...YOU know why you did it...what you want to know is if it worked

Sammeow: That is true of the critiqueor as well as the critiquee

Verla: you can, samm...but usually it's better to just take the person's crit at face value. If they say, "I don't understand Timmy's reason for his anger," instead of trying to explain to the critter why Timmy is angry...you need to realize that you didn't write the story in such a way that what you wanted to say got through to THAT ONE person...the critter

Sammeow: Understand

Verla: by the way...if everyone else who critiques the story DOES understand Timmy's reason for being angry, then you can assume the story is fine and the critter just "didn't get it." But if EVERYONE says that to you...then you will know that if you want that reason to be understood by your readers, you are going to need to rewrite that part of your story

ToniBuzzeo: I agree Verla.

ToniBuzzeo: That's the advantage of multiple readers.

Verla: Okay. What are things you should worry about in forming an on-line critique group?

ThereseW: Equal level of commitment

_Lyra: personality clashes - That happened in my face-to-face critique group

ToniBuzzeo: Similarity of experience.

ClaraRose: trust

Verla: Yes, good comments!

Verla: These are all things to talk about when you are setting up an on-line crit group. Also, HOW OFTEN WILL YOU BE SUBMITTING?

Verla: If three people submit every week...and one person only wants to see manuscripts once a month...you are not going to work well together

Verla: Decide how often each person may submit...

Verla: remember that you are going to be getting manuscripts from ALL of them (especially at first)

Verla: and you will be sending your critiqued manuscripts out to everyone, also.

Verla: So if there are 9 of you...

Verla: that's nine manuscripts each week...

Verla: times 8 crits for each of them

Verla: At first, we set up a bi-weekly schedule...

Verla: half of us submitted one week...the other half the next week

Verla: And everyone didn't always submit every week

Verla: (except at the beginning!)

Verla: now we don't have to have the restrictions any more...as we have all had all our "back stuff" critiqued and are only having our new work done

ClaraRose: (or rewrites)

Verla: right, clara

Verla: And there are times when all of us have emailed the rest and said, "I can't keep up...I have to stop for the next couple of weeks."

Verla: And we all understand!

Sammeow: When do you have time to write w/such a large group?

Verla: That's why it's so important to find a group that has the same level of commitment as you, samm...

Verla: When I was dividing all the people into groups, I paired a few that were only interested in once a month submissions..they had little time and needed only minimum help

Sammeow: Do you have a critiquing format? 3 spaced? no. sentences?

guest-Lyn: How do you refer to specific paragraphs, etc, without retyping everything?

Verla: We just plop them into e-mails, lyn & Samm...we do NOT critique formats!

Verla: Only content of the stories

ClaraRose: e-mail can kind of mess up formats anyway.

Verla: In the STARS critique group, we critique manuscripts directly in our e-mail programs. I click on "reply" and then start critiquing. I read through the story, then begin making my commets.

Verla: *****A SINGLE LINE OF STARS IN THE MARGIN OF THE MANUSCRIPT MARKS THE PLACE WHERE THERE ARE SUGGESTIONS RECOMMENDED.

Verla: Critique comments are most often writen in all caps, as in the example above, so that they will stand out from the original story.

Verla: Words that the critiquer recommends deleting from the story are enclosed in <<<carats>>> and words that are suggested to be added to the story are enclosed in [[[brackets]]]. PERSONAL COMMENTS ARE IN ALL CAPS.

NOTE: You can use other symbols around your suggested changes... as (((paranthesis))) or ***stars*** or something else. As long as you tell the person being critiqued what method you are using and then use it all the way through the manuscript, anything that is easily understood is acceptable.

Verla: Only in rare cases have I felt the need to completely rewrite a portion of a story in order to make my meaning clear to the recipient.

Verla: Here is a sample critique of one paragraph in a story:

 

Verla: Before the critique:

Something had to be done. And fast. What could he do? Milton scratched his head. Maybe chili peppers would help? They were very hot.

Verla: ***** Something <<<had to>>> [[[MUST]]] be done. <<<And>>> fast <<<.>>> [[[!]]] <<<What could he do?>>> Milton scratched his head. WHY NOT USE THE IDEA OF THINKING, HERE INSTEAD OF HAVING HIM JUST SCRATCH HIS HEAD. WOULD CHILDREN "GET" THE CONNECTION BETWEEN HIS SCRATCHING AND THINKING? I THINK MAYBE THEY WOULD NOT ....Maybe chili peppers would help? They were very hot.

Verla: And if the suggested changes were made, the manuscript would now read like this:

Something must be done. Fast! Milton scratched his head and thought hard. Maybe chili peppers would help? They were very hot.

Verla: Did that answer your questions, Samm and Lyn?

guest-Lyn: Yes, thanks.

Verla: Questions?

_Lyra: good advice, V (g)

Sammeow: Thanks

Verla: Okay..one more thing about on-line crit groups

Verla: TRUST

Verla: How do you know you can trust your on-line critters?

Verla: I was hesitant at first..

Verla: Send MY babies...to complete strangers????

Verla: YIKES!

Verla: Here's what I did..and what I recommend

Verla: At first, don't send the critique group ANYTHING that you feel it would "kill you" if they "stole" it from you. Instead, at first send your group older stories that you have pretty much "retired."

Verla: As they critique your stories and give you suggestions, you will became more comfortable with them. When they send you their manuscripts and you critique them, you will became even more comfortable. After a short while, you will know if these are serious writers who are trusting you with their precious manuscripts, just as you are beginning to trust them. At this time, you can begin sending them your most important stories, too.

Verla: My own critique group has become VERY close friends via our e-mail submissions. Three of us have sold nine books in the past year and all three of us freely admit that a lot of our success is a direct result of changes made in our manuscripts because of the wonderful suggestions of our critique group.

Verla: So what I would say is this: Allow yourself to try this medium, but don't send out your most important stories to complete strangers until you feel comfortable with them. And...I hope all of you find as wonderful a group as I have!

Verla: Any other comments or questions? We have five minutes left...

Verla: clara...did I leave anything out about how our group works that would be helpful?

ClaraRose: I would say.. maybe flexability.

ClaraRose: most of us have never seen one another face to face... though now we have a picture... (Thanks! Verla!)

_Lyra: you have LOTS of pictures, thanks to Verla (g)

Verla: Yes, pictures are the only way most of us can see each other

Windy2u: It's been a kick seeing those pictures.

woolfff1: Verla, you know we have a new group of 21. I'm awful nervous about the size of this group.

Verla: 21 is a lot of people!

_Lyra: too many people...21

Verla: But I bet a lot of those 21 don't stay, woolfff

_Lyra: Well, if someone isn't comfortable with a GROUP--I've done fine with only ONE critique email friend

Verla: Yes, sometimes just a couple of people works well.

Sammeow: Did you know this critter before, Lyra?

Verla: lol

_Lyra: well...yeah --- for about 8 years

Verla: She is talking about ME, samm..yes. She did know me before.

_Lyra: (Don't tell anyone, but Verla critiques for me)

Sammeow: Just 1 stranger would be hard.

_Lyra: nope--Verla just points out the areas where I can improve the story

Verla: Sometimes it can work well, samm

Verla: depends on the people

Sammeow: No fair

Verla: What is no fair, samm?

Sammeow: Having YOU as the sole critter

Sammeow: No fair to the rest of us, I mean

Verla: Hey, Lyra and I ROOM together at conferences, Samm....we visit each other's houses...we are good buddies outside of e-mail. :-)

_Lyra: Before I started emailing critiques with Verla, I was in a face-to-face WEEKLY critique group for 8 years

_Lyra: I lost my critique group a few years ago, and just need specific help from someone who knows my work

Verla: The one bad thing about an e-mail crit group is that you don't have that incentive...that I HAVE to write something to share! Like you do in an in-person group

guest-Lyn: I've never thought of trying an on-line group, but now you have me interested. Especially since I'm in an area where there aren't a lot of children's writers around.

Verla: that's why I do it now, lyn.

Verla: And I find it's better in some ways...

Verla: I can do it when I have time

woolfff1: Do you use a crit form of any kind?

Verla: No, woolfff. We don't. But I know some people do. Mostly those would be helpful I think in an in-person crit. Via e-mail, it would be hard to fill out a form and send it to your critique group members.

Verla: Okay...any last questions? If not...this workshop is now OVER...

*** Verla has set the topic on channel #Kidlit to Writers & Illustrators of Children's Books Meet Here

NOTE: Although this is the end of the "official" workshop, the continuing conversation had more interesting information in it about on-line critique groups, so that conversation transcript contines on should you care to read it.

guest-Lyn: As usual, Verla you've been a wealth of information. Thanks.

DonaV: Very good workshop, Verla!

Sammeow: Terrific Workshop, Verla

Verla: :-) Thank you...

ClaraRose: Excellent Job!!! Difficult subject, but you tackled it well!

woolfff1: Thank you for sharing your experience.

. BigJohN_: Very nice Verla thanks.

Windy2u: Thanks Verla. Without your help, and STARS we wouldn't have put Dream Catchers together.

Verla: I'm so glad, windy!

Verla: The STARS group is doing so well, windy

Verla: I hope yours does as well

Windy2u: We think of you guys as our big sisters...

Verla: The STARS have had a few drop outs...and a few new replacements...but most of us are the originals, still.

Verla: Ah..the STARS and the Dream Catchers...

Verla: nice names

ThereseW: Thanks, Verla.

ThereseW: Yeah, it's working well so far!

ClaraRose: good for you!

Verla bows low....watching keyboard so she doesn't crack her head on it this time...

ClaraRose applause applause encore! encore!

_Lyra: I really needed my weekly critique group as my career grew

Verla: Me, too, lyra. It helped me a lot

_Lyra: And I DO miss my weekly group--but not sad to stop driving on those foggy Winter nights

Sammeow: So is everyone here tonight already in an on-line crit group?

Verla: clara and I are in the same group, samm

Verla: The STARS

ThereseW: Windy and I are both in Dream Catchers

Verla: lyra doesn't do on-line groups

_Lyra: I do specific critiques occasionally

Verla: yes, lyra is a one-on-one critter

Verla: she helps me out occasionally, too

woolfff1: Yes, I'm in the mega group and very nervous about receiving a mass mailing one day!

Verla: what group are you in, wooolfff?

woolfff1: The new Kidcrit with Janna.

Verla: Ah....good, woolfff

_Lyra: As a writer's career changes, her critiquing needs change, too

Windy2u: That's what I'm worrying about...Lyra.

_Lyra: how do you mean, Windy?

Windy2u: Do you out grow each other?

Verla: Sometimes that happens, windy

woolfff1: If I commit to "hanging in there," I think our group will eventually thin down to a more manageable size.

_Lyra: yes...that's what happened partly with my 8 year group

Verla: We had a couple of the STARS that decided they no longer needed us

woolfff1: Were they right?

Verla: We had some of that in the STARS at first, too. One of our members was getting published and didn't want to bother with crits any more.

ClaraRose: One was writing more outside of picture books, so joined an older group.

Verla: And remember, woolfff..you can always contact specific people within your big group and ask for help on the side...and if the big group ever disbands...you can always make a smaller group out of some of the people in that group.

woolfff1: That is a great idea, Verla.

Windy2u: There are already big differences in our group.

Windy2u: We have about 5 people who really stand out..

Verla: divide your group, windy

Windy2u: We may..

ThereseW: That will be tough!

ThereseW: How can you without hurting people?

Windy2u: Think about it Therese...

BigJohN_: You hang in there woolf Verla is correct and there is a lot of talent in that big group.

Verla: You tell everyone that there are people who want to submit more than others....

woolfff1: That's a wonderful way to look at it. A lot of potential for growth.

Verla: so in the best interests of everyone...you are splitting the group into the very active people and the people who are not wanting to be swamped with submissions

Verla: (I found the most active people were the ones that kept on going and didn't quit)

ThereseW: I think it's clear that some are more serious than others.

Verla: yes. And what you want is to keep the serious writers together...and the casual writers in their own group. That way, everyone is happy and no one feels totally swamped or overwhelmed by too many submissions. That causes people to drop out. And you want everyone to stay in their groups and be HAPPY and SUCCESSFUL. That's what the e-mail critique groups are all about.

BigJohN_: Usually downsizing has to do with interest and group needs more than anything else.

Verla: yes, exactly, bj!

_Lyra: For a while I met with two other YA authors about 80 miles away and we shared critiques

Sammeow: That's 3 hrs of driving, Lyra...both ways.

_Lyra: I didn't meet them often, Sammeow

_Lyra: But both were published similarly to me and it was helpful meeting

Verla: LOL ... I thought we were done...with this workshop! But we seem to be like the energizer batteries....we just keep going and going and going....<giggle>

ThereseW: LOL

Verla: When my group first started EVERYONE was submitting EVERY week...

Verla: we were absolutely SWAMPED with manuscripts...

Verla: remember that, clara? LOL

ClaraRose: It was REALLY HARD

ClaraRose: especially for a newbie like me!

Verla: and with each of us sending all the crits to everyone else....it was MASSIVE amounts of emails!

Verla: At first we were getting five subs and 25 crits every week!

Verla: but we found those crits of other people's manuscripts SO helpful!

_Lyra: I have judged contests & critiqued a lot--and often learn more from seeing other's work

Verla: We had six in our group then..

ClaraRose: Very, very helpful. I don't trust a 'green' story anymore, until it has been through the group.

Verla: yes, they are VERY helpful

_Lyra: smaller groups are easier to manage

_Lyra: I have given up on a group and just have Verla as a reader ... although I send to a few other people, too

Verla: (Ah HAH! the truth comes out, lyra....other people, too, eh?)

_Lyra: You know I send stuff to Mel and Adnil!

_Lyra: But they don't critique--mostly just applaud, which is nice, too

Verla: grin. yes, lyra

ThereseW: We're capped at 4 right now

woolfff1: 4 subs a week?

ThereseW: yes, 4 per week

ThereseW: and there are 9 of us

Sammeow: I'd dearly love to find 3 other people, besides SQ in my area

Windy2u: One of the things I love about our group, is the marketing suggestions...

Windy2u: new eyes with different thoughts...works great.

----------END OF CONVERSATION ABOUT CRITIQUE GROUPS AFTER THE OFFICIAL WORKSHOP ENDED---------

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