Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

What is a Critiquenic?

The word “Critiquenic” actually is a smash-up of “critique” and “picnic.”  It’s a chance for you to receive constructive feedback on a work-in-progress, munch goodies, and share news. At Critiquenics, we form critique circles that are anchored by published authors.

If you are already in a critique group, Critiquenics offer you a chance to try out your work-in-progress on new ears. If you are not in a critique group, this is a chance to get important feedback and perhaps connect with others to join or start a critique group. Both published and not-yet-published authors attend Critiquernics.

Here’s how a Critiquenic works:
Authors bring along a manuscript, understanding that the group may only get to hear 3 – 5 pages, depending on time and the number of folks attending. Bring at least two copies – one for yourself and one for a reader. You are welcome to bring up to 5 copies  (up to 5 pages) if you wish for others to write notes directly on your manuscript.

We form critique circles, loosely based on genre.
In the circle, the author hands over the manuscript to someone else to read aloud. We ask that the author NOT give any background about the manuscript before it is read, except perhaps the age group or genre (picture book/chapter book/novel). In order to reap the greatest benefit from the feedback, the author must be a fly on the wall with pen in hand and record what others say. 

When the reader finishes the text, the GROUP responds.  Think "hamburger" — bun, meat (or veggie burger) and bun.

Bun. First others tell the author "what works" (vivid language, title, character, opening, idea, dialogue, etc.  — whatever you can hook into)

Meat. Next comes the meat — "what doesn't seem to work" (things the listeners have questions or concerns about — short of rewriting the piece for the author) You may be tempted to defend your work at this point.  Don’t!  Listen. Write down comments, no matter how whacky they may seem. You can address issues at the end.

Bun. Finally comes "encouragement" (what to do next . . . even if it's just to say "keep working on this –you're on the right track.)

If you have questions to ask the group, you may do so after the group members have given their feedback.