…stays in a Critique.
HAS THIS EVER HAPPENED TO YOU?
You are about to have your manuscript critiqued. As you bend to sit at the table, you realize your heart is moving up to your throat, your palms are sweaty and adrenaline is rushing through you. This is your body getting into defensive mode, now, you’re like a parent protecting your child.
WILL I KNOW WHEN MY SESSION IS SCHEDULED?
Yes. You will receive your session time via email at least one week prior to the conference
HOW DO I PREPARE?
Arrive at the conference with enough time to
- Check in at the conference registration desk and pick up your badge and packet
- Check in at the Critique/Review desk
- Sessions are booked back to back–if you are late your session will STILL end on time
- Missed appointments can not be rescheduled and
- There is no refund for a missed critique.
WHAT DO YOU DO?
Relax. Seriously. You will live to write another day. The critique is not about YOU, it is about how your story and the writing impacted the individual providing the critique.
Be Quiet. A major part of improving at any artistic endeavor is the ability to take and understand criticism. It doesn’t matter if you dance, sing, draw or write, there will be criticism.
Listen. Because you need to hear what the person on the other side of the table has to say. If you’re defensive you won’t be listening, you’ll be planning what you’re going to say next.
WHAT IF IT’S NOT A GOOD CRITIQUE?
First, a good critique is one that gives you an honest and direct opinion about your telling of the story. You may not like what you hear, but we have brought in faculty that are experienced and educated to understand the craft of writing.
Second, don’t excuse or explain! As Linda Sue Park, Newberry Winner and SCBWI Board Member states on her website “… the work must stand or fall on its own. When the piece eventually gets submitted and is read by an editor, the writer won’t be there to say things like, “Well, what I meant there is…” or “That’s supposed to refer back to…”
HOW DO I KNOW I’M GETTING A GOOD CRITIQUE?
At SCBWI we’ve set the stage for the quality of your critique. Every professional who critiques your work will answer these questions:
- What are the positive aspects of this work?
- What elements require attention and improvement?
- What can you improve on character development?
- What can you improve on plot and structure?
- What can you improve on language and diction?
- What can you improve on voice?
- What are the aspects of marketability I see?
- Here’s what I recommend as your next steps…
We request industry professionals answer these questions either on a Critique Form or on your work itself or on a separate sheet. Starting with the first question on the positive aspects of this work, through to questions on marketability, next steps and additional comments, we want you to have an understanding of how an industry professional views your writing.
You many not agree, and, that’s okay, after all, it is your story. Just remember the purpose of the critique is to give you a direct and honest opinion of your writing by an industry professional.
DO I GET A CHANCE TO ASK QUESTIONS?
Yes. As the industry professional comes prepared to discuss your writing, you should be prepared as well. A good review gives suggestions for learning about your writing and storytelling even if it’s not your first time on the receiving side of the table.
Prepare your questions about areas of concern in advance. Write them down. For example are you worried about voice? or dialogue?
- Do not ask an editor or agent to take your full manuscript or to look at it during the conference.
- You will receive submission information as part of your conference packet.
- When it’s time to end your session thank the industry professional
- REMEMBER another person is waiting and deserves their FULL session time.
REMEMBER, you’ve paid for INSIGHT into your story.
Relax, Be Quiet & Listen. Deciding how to use the information comes later.