KidLitZombieWeek: Critique Groups Creep In to Help Create Zombie Stories!

My critique group, 6 Ladies and a MANuscript, and I are hosting the first #KidLitZombieWeek June 22 – 26. 

What IS Kid Lit Zombie Week?

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It’s a whole week dedicated to reviving “dead manuscripts!” These are stories that you may have shelved for one reason or another. It could be that you hit a wall.  You may have received some discouraging feedback and set the story aside. If you’re like me, you got stuck on the ending. (Endings are hard!) Whatever the reason, now is the time to bring those dead stories back to life!

Check out the Kidlit Zombie Week website for details.

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Critique groups can help you breathe life into mummified manuscripts.

Maybe you will share your “dead” story with your critique group or critique partner(s) BEFORE you revise it. They may help you brainstorm ways to revive your manuscript.

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Maybe you’d rather take the first crack at bringing back your shelved story. Then your CPs can give you feedback afterward.

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Maybe you want feedback before AND after the story gets saved. 

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Whatever works for you!

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My Story

When I started writing for children in the summer of 2018, I joined the Kidlit 411 Manuscript Swap group on Facebook. I began swapping stories with individuals. One of the wonderful writers I’d swapped with more than once invited me to join her new picture book critique group on Facebook. I was thrilled to join the group and begin getting to know other children’s writers. This group is particularly special to me, because it’s my first critique group. We swap stories, share resources, and, maybe most importantly, encourage each other. 

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When I participated in  National Picture Book Writing Week (NaPiBoWriWee) in 2019, I connected with another super PB writer. She invited me to join a regular weekly critique group. I write many picture book manuscripts, so I jumped at the chance to get (and give) weekly feedback on them.

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I’m part of other critique groups, including of course 6 Ladies and a MANuscript. Each group has its own style and benefits.

The power of fresh eyes on a story cannot be overstated. The feedback I receive from my critique groups — as well as individual critique partners– helps me to revise, edit, tighten, and improve my manuscripts. On the other hand, reading and critiquing others’ work also helps me become a better writer. It’s a win-win!

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Yay!


So you want to form or join a critique group… what’s next?

  • Get involved. Participate in kid lit events and contests. This is a wonderful way to connect with new writers. 
  • Ask around. Tell other writers you’re looking to join a group. Use social media to your advantage. Seek out writers on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.
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Introduce yourself. The kid lit community is friendly.
  • Decide what works for you. Maybe you want the accountability of weekly or biweekly manuscript exchanges. Or are you looking for a more laid-back approach to critique groups? There are all kinds. 
  • Check out SCBWI for critique group possibilities.
  • Other resources to connect with critique partners or groups:
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Wow!

Kidlit411

Kidlit411 Manuscript Swap

#PBChat

Susanna Leonard Hill’s class Making Picture Book Magic, writing contests, & more

Julie Hedlund’s 12 x 12 Challenge

Vivian Kirkfield’s #50PreciousWords contest

Spring Fling Kidlit contest

Fall Writing Frenzy contest

Storystorm

NaPiBoWriWee

ReFoReMo

ReVISION Week

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So. Many. Resources!

Have you revived a dead story– or two or three– this week? How did your critique partners or groups help? Maybe you helped another writer revive a story. If so, how? Do you have any tips for connecting with others?

We hope participating in #KidLitZombieWeek has helped you learn, grow, connect, and bring life to dead stories!  

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Don’t forget to join us on Twitter for the pitch contest and pledge for prizes!

Published by Sarah Meade

Children's Writer

Join the Conversation

26 Comments

  1. Great post!!! Crit groups are so important for honest critique AND support! Thanks for the info and for Zombie Week. I’ve loved every minute! 🧟‍♀️

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I count on my critique group to steer me in the right direction. I have learned to trust their judgement. My stories are better because of the people in my critique group. Thanks, Sarah, for emphasizing this. Zombie Week has been a wonderful experience.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great advice. Having a supportive critique group Is vital for me to believe in my work. Supporting each other through highs and lows gives confidence to bring out zombies! Thank you for #KidLitZombieWeek – what a great idea

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Susanna! The first kid lit contest I participated in was your holiday contest in 2018, and I’ve been hooked ever since. The Mix’n’Match Challenge was just the motivation/inspiration that many us needed this spring. Thanks for all you do!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Critique partners (in group form or not) are simply the best thing for my writing. I love your uplifting post that expresses gratitude for those very important people on a writer’s journey. I think critique partners become one another’s biggest fans and advocates. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I love how you said to have a CP look at the manuscript BEFORE revising. That’s exactly what I did, and you gave me such great advice on how to make the manuscript come to life. Thanks for being such an amazing critique partner, Sarah!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I think critiquing other people’s work is just as important as almost anything else you can do to improve your writing. Reading tons of picture books, absorbing the craft, and then using that eye to help other people improve their manuscripts is truly what I feel has helped me improve my own first drafts. It’s all connected!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. What a fun week. Thanks so much for so many thought provoking posts. I had really never thought of dusting off a MS that I put in the drawer.

    Liked by 1 person

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