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A long Saturday

I woke up early this morning to drive to Lancaster, PA, where I moderated critiques all day at a table of ten picture book writers as part of the Eastern PA SCBWI's first-ever Critique Fest (attendees got three private critiques, one each from an experienced author, an agent and an editor, plus another group critique, one of which is what I moderated). It was an interesting and fun day, since I also got to catch up with some friends, including Paul Acampora, Nancy Viau, and Marilyn Hershey.

The mix of manuscripts at the table was fascinating, really - from the short to the long, from very simple to very complex, from concrete to abstract, prose to verse, fact to fiction, serious to silly and more. And all in ten manuscripts. It was an interesting format, and one I'd recommend for groups: Each critique got 20 minutes, during which the author read their work, then was required to sit out and listen as others discussed the manuscript - they weren't allowed to interject, or to ask (or answer) questions. The philosophy was that it was kind of like sitting in on an editorial meeting, and I suppose it's true in a way - as long as you have enough writers with experience among the group or someone to steer the conversation to enforce the rules and be sure things don't take a turn for the ugly or otherwise run off the rails. (And hey, that was my job. That's right, I got to be bossy the facilitator, and it was fun.)

And now, I'm for a bit of writing on my WIP (it has been calling to me, and I had some thoughts while driving that I want to add into my outline/summary thingummy), and then bed, since I have an early morning writing date with Angela De Groot (angeladegroot).

Tomorrow: Two posts - one will be a quoteskimming post, and the other will be a chapter of Sense & Sensibility, since I'm feeling like we've been lagging lately. And we're about to get one of the really good/horrible scenes. *rubs hands in anticipation*

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( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
Nov. 7th, 2010 02:16 pm (UTC)
Your group sounds pretty typical. The way the groups were run yesterday, there was NO back & forth time with the writer, unless they wanted to talk things over at lunch (many of them did) or at the end of the day. It made for an interesting day, really, since we had to pretend the writer wasn't there during the discussions - you weren't supposed to address them directly, so we had to speak about "the writer" and "him/her, he/she" rather than using any "you" statements.
Nov. 7th, 2010 03:17 pm (UTC)
Sounds like a great learning experience. Very Cool.
Nov. 8th, 2010 03:40 pm (UTC)
It was a fun day, as well as being a good reminder of what to do (and, in some cases, of what not to do) in a picture book manuscript.
Nov. 7th, 2010 04:47 pm (UTC)
I'm going to copy this post and take it along to our local SCBWI chapter volunteer meeting next week. We're looking for ways to add an extra "work" day to our conference, and this might be perfect!
Nov. 8th, 2010 03:44 pm (UTC)
It seemed to benefit the attendees quite a bit. There was a general consensus at the table that they got the very most out of the group critique - even moreso than from the private conferences. I think that part of that is that the folks at the table worked hard to give positive comments as well as constructive ideas, and we all know that not all one-on-one crits are quite so positive. There were folks with message/lesson manuscripts who were offended to be told by the editor/agent that their book was didactic, for instance.

You could always contact Marilyn, who's the RA for Eastern PA, if you'd like more info on how they went about setting it up.
Nov. 8th, 2010 03:53 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I made a note of Marilyn's name to give to my RAs.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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