An outline for critiquing children’s books and illustrations: Critique Group Kick-off

This is what I put together for my first critique group meeting to help facilitate good, constructive feedback.  If you notice that I missed anything please reply with your suggestions.  Thanks!

Things to consider: Manuscript

  • Is the protagonist likable?
  • Is the protagonist well defined or somewhat flat?
  • What is the problem to be solved?  Is it introduced early enough?
  • Is it a problem the reader should care about? Why/why not?
  • Is there rising tension?
  • What is the turning point / Turning points?
  • Is a failure reached before the turning point?
  • How does the protagonist overcome the failure/problem?
  • Is there a satisfying ending? Could it be improved? How?
  • Is there cultural authenticity?
  • Theme: Is there a meaningful message and a satisfactory closure without being sermonizing?
  • Voice: Is there a clear voice coming through in the story? 
  • Do all the loose ends get tied up at the end and reference back to the story’s beginning?
  • Grammar / punctuation

Things to consider: Illustration

  • Does the art support and enhance the understanding of the story?
  • Do you see the character develop through the illustrations?
  • Do the illustrations convey feeling or mood?
  • Is the expression/feeling conveyed as intended?
  • Do illustrations facilitate appropriate story pacing? Do they prompt the reader to turn page fast or slow down, as intended?
  • Is the art appropriate for the story?
  • Does the story convey the tension described in the text?

Critique group principles

Be supportive of each other’s writing/illustrating goals.
Provide valuable, constructive feedback to help improve a specific story/illustration. Encourage development of each other as a writer/illustrator.

Giving feedback

 1st. Identify something you like about the story/illustration.  Explain why you like it.

2nd. Describe with as much detail as possible what you feel could be improved, why, and provide strategies to improve it if possible.

Receiving feedback

  • Even the very best and most experienced authors go through an iterative revision process, and their editors often require slashing of significant material.  Constructive feedback will help you improve your story and your writing.
  • If you disagree with what one person says, that’s good.  If you disagree with what a number of people say or feel, you may want to re-evaluate.
  • Sometimes critics are wrong!  After re-evaluating, go with your gut.

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