It can be scary to get your story critiqued. I remember some of my first critiques on some of the first stories I ever wrote – brutal. It was hard, but I told myself to trust the process and take the comments the same way I took advice from my running coach. This will help me get better, I told myself.
A lot about the critique process has to do with your relationship with the critiquer. You need to trust that they are here to help you, that they want you to succeed, and that they believe you can do this!! They believe IN YOU! And so do I.
- From an adult critique partner on a picture book:
“I would omit. It’s much stronger to end this spread with a question that begs a page turn.”
Do you really need that sentence? It’s so hard to delete words! But page turns are essential in picture books, so focus on making those irresistible.
- From an adult critique partner on a picture book about a caring teacher:
“I think your opening needs work. This paragraph has two weak verbs, which tells me there isn’t enough action.”
Does your opening grab their attention? Especially with picture books, we only have a brief moment to capture the curiosity of our readers. Can you make it stronger?
- I have a picture book set in a local business. My 15 yr old and I stopped by one day after he read my draft.
“Take note of how this place sounds for your book.”
Have you engage all of the senses? Beyond what they look like, make sure your reader knows how things sound, smell, feel, taste. Our brains crave those details and it will immerse readers in your story. Use all the sensory details that you can.
- From an adult reader on a picture book about a traumatic event:
“I wonder if this should be moved up to the first spread. It is definitely a page turner and amps up the tension.”
Are you getting the same kind of feedback across multiple stories? Uh oh. This sounds familiar. It’s the same problem that I shared in point 2! This sounds like I have a habit of starting in a weak spot in the story and ramping up a few pages in, so I’ll pay attention to that in future drafts!
You may know I provide editorial and critique services both independently and on Reedsy. If you’re writing a story or book and would like proofreading, copyediting, critique, or feedback please get in touch!