I have found receiving and giving feedback to be one of the most helpful ways in advancing my writing. I have been blessed to have some very thoughtful and kind critique partners.
The reason I like to critique is because it gives me insight into how other people would see my work and makes me more conscious of my own writing. Moreover, if I am comprehensive in my critiques than my critique partners are likely to do the same for me.
This is my critique process:
My role as a critique-r is to help advance the story and make it a better version of itself. Some challenges I have faced and how I have resolved them:
I decided to take a break from writing. Often, when I am working on a piece, it becomes an addiction. I open my laptop every free moment and start typing, editing, and changing. Most of the time, this process isn’t that fruitful. So I told myself, take a break. I have not touched my writing for a week, but I have had an otherwise action-packed and eye-opening weekend that has indirectly fueled by writing.
Firstly, my husband and I attended the Jio Mami Film Festival where we saw two films and attended one masterclass. The first film, ‘Chintu Ka Birthday’ produced by the team behind AIB was a humorous take on Indians who have been left behind in war-torn Iraq. Overall, it is light and warm, but there are some moments that puncture in your heart. ‘Nimtoh’ is a film by Saurav Rai, a director from Darjeeling and it has gone for the Cannes film festival. It is slow-paced, does an excellent job of recreating life in the mountains and creates the division between the servants and those being served.
While I was fascinated by the screenplay and the direction, the thing that was amiss in both films (to me) was a strong, tangible character that I was rooting for. This made me realize that no matter how good the writing may be, unless you have characters that the reader is connected to or feels for, the piece will fall flat. The protagonists in both films were young boys and while I felt sad for their situation, I wasn’t invested in them. It dawned upon me that this is KEY- especially if the story is character driven.
My first picture book, ‘Burrito Has A Butterbody’ has garnered love from children everywhere and to be honest, it is a simple story. There are no intricacies or deeper meanings. When I think about it, the simple reason for this is that Burrito is a very amiable character and the children are rooting for him. Moreover, a lot of them have been in situations like him and find him relatable.
I recently came across a useful tip by Hannah Holt on the 'must-have' elements of a picture book:
Picture Book Builders -What goes into building a great picture book? Why is this one successful and that one … not?
KidLit411 -one stop information shop for children's writers and illustrators
SCBWI- Society of Children's Book Writer's and Illustrators- the international professional organization for writers and illustrators of children's literature since 1971.
HAROLD UNDERDOWN- Children's book editor's website, The Purple Crayon, includes articles covering writing, illustrating, marketing, and editing. An incredible collection of resources.
JUSTIN COLON - runs #PBCHAT and has some fabulous interviews with authors
Submissions & Querying:
SUB IT CLUB - a blog dedicated to the art and science of submissions; great information and resources
Manuscript Wish List Manuscript Wish List® and #MSWL are designed to answer one crucial question in the submissions process: “What do you wish you had in your inbox?”
Query Shark - read sample queries with amazing feedback
Query Tracker -A great resource to look up agents and search according to category
Podcasts (if you don't enjoy reading)
The Children’s Book Podcast with Matthew Winner
Literaticast with Jennifer Laughran
Picturebooking with Nick Patton
Writing Picture Books Revised and Expanded- Ann Whitford Paul
Ideally, I would like the parent to feel empowered and go with their gut feeling when it comes to reading, but here are some strategies you might like to keep in mind.