Some Free Critique Advice

I’m in several critique groups and I try to really provide useful, actionable feedback for my partners. I thought you might like to read some useful, actionable feedback that YOU can use on your story.

Yes, these comments are for other writers writing other books, but if you think about them in general terms you can make sure you aren’t repeating these problems in your book.

And if you’re still not sure, don’t forget I offer individual critiques. 

  1. What’s the pitch for this? What’s the tight focus? I’m sure you have a query letter with a pitch, and I wonder if that would help you tighten the animal list to a specific kind of surprise. For instance, if “hunting” is the surprise, that could help you reduce the number of animals to only those that hunt by ambush. Writing the pitch helps you make sure you’re staying true to the story when you write it.
  2. Is this book about helping kids convince parents? OR is this book about avoiding bedtime and staying up all night? I know that’s a slight nuance but I think it’s important, because I don’t think the rest of the book actually tells kids how to convince their parents, so this section needs to be revised.
  3. I think you need to do a revision that eliminates A LOT of the scientific info and the background info and focus on the immediate experiences of your main animal character. Really put it into her perspective as much as you can, so that kids can empathize with her. They will be rooting for her to be accepted by the foster parent. You can move a ton of text to the back matter and readers will still have access to it. But by making this big revision, you will focus on the heart of your story.

I hope these comments help you strengthen your manuscript. Remember, writing the query or pitch first is a really smart idea. It helps you zoom in on exactly what you want to write, how you would sell your story in a bookstore (which makes it easier to sell to an agent or editor) and really satisfy your readers. Good luck and keep writing!