The wonderful and talented Kim Kasch is Critique Group Coordinator for the Oregon SCBWI aka Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators. Recently she interviewed me online regarding critiquing.
10 Questions – Being in a Critique Group
by Kim Kasch
An Interview with Roz Malin from Rose City Writers and a Screenwriting Group
1) Tell us a bit about you:
I write middle-grade fantasy and what I call mocumentaries which are tabloid-like news stories about my mythical creatures, Toves. Plus, I have written 2 feature length screenplays and two short screenplays.
2) What advantages do you see to being a member of a critique group?
I’m in two critique groups – one through SCBWI called The Rose City Writers and the other through a screenwriting group. The people in both groups are extremely supportive. We not only give each other structure critiques – what does and does not work in a story – but we share information on contests, agents, conferences and techniques in writing query letter or pitching.
3) What disadvantages have you seen to being part of a critique group?
It’s important to remember it’s my story and not a story by committee.
4) Tell us a little bit about your group and how you got connected with these writers.
Through the SCBWI. I joined Kim’s and Estela’s group several years ago. When I switched jobs and had different days off, I connected with a Vancouver group through Willamette Writers. A year later, I was able to reconnect with Kim and Estela and rejoined their group.
5) Tell us how often you meet and how you figured out your schedule?
We meet every other Saturday. Each time we get together we pick our next meeting date. However, on occasion, we leave it up in the air and I email everybody and throw some dates out for people to choose from. And sometimes we tie in the critique meeting to a SCBWI event like the Next Level. We’re pretty democratic. During the holiday season . . well, we do the best we can.
6) What is the best thing about being part of a writing group?
Camaraderie, friendship, support and sharing are the emotional perks. Then it’s great to have other people throw out ideas that help move the story along. And I am grateful when someone catches holes in the story, etc. Spelling, grammar, syntax! I never catch all my mistakes. We have some great detail-oriented readers in our group. I have no problem with red ink and appreciate any oops! they catch.
7) How long has your group been together?
I’ve lost track of time. We ebb and flow. Presently, the members in our group have been together for a couple years, but we have new members. We always welcome new members. BTW, we do board books through YA.
8) What “unusual” things have you done as a group?
We had one of our meetings at the DoubleTree Lloyd Center when last year’s local Fantasy and SF convention, Orycon was happening. Since we met in the public lounge, no one had to buy a membership, but watching the attendees wearing costumes was fun.
9) Where do you see your group going in the future?
I see everybody in our group published and we still gather and critique and support each other.
10) Any other comments, suggestions, ideas that I forgot to ask you about?
At the beginning I mention I was in a scriptwriting critique group. We’re nice people, but can be to the point and detailed when we critique scripts. It takes a thick skin. However, I have learned heaps of writing skills from scripting, especially story arc, character arc, beats, symbolism, 1st/2nd/3rd tier characters and on and on. And this is where I learned to pitch. Everything I learned form my scripting folks, I bring back to my KidLit folks.
And one last thought. If you are being critiqued and don’t agree with what is said, you don’t have to take the advise – especially if it’s just one person. It’s your story. However, if three of four people say the same thing, give it some consideration.