Having been a moderator of a children's writing critique group and a reviewer for multiple genres, as well as being an editor, I read a number of manuscripts and books. Reading both well written books and books that lack polish, it's easy to tell which authors haven't bothered to have their work critiqued or edited.
Seeing the unnecessary and unprofessional mistakes of writers publishing unpolished work, I always include the importance of belonging to a critique group in articles or ebooks I write about writing. Even experienced authors depend on the unique perspective and extra eyes that each critique member provides.
The critique group can catch a number of potential problems with your manuscript, such as:
1. Grammatical errors
2. Holes in your story
3. Unclear sentences, paragraphs, or dialogue
4. The forward movement of the story
5. Overuse of a particular word, adjectives, and adverbs
6. Unnecessary words to eliminate for a tight story
7. Unnecessary or excessive scenes that should be eliminated to ensure a tight story
8. Character continuity
9. Manuscript formatting
10. Head hopping
The list goes on and on. And, there are even more potential problems to be watched out for when writing for children. It's near impossible for even an experienced writer to catch all of his or her own errors.
Your critique partners will also provide suggestions and guidance. Note here, it is up to you whether to heed those suggestion and comments, but if all the members of your group suggest you rewrite a particular sentence for clarity, hopefully a light will go off and you'll pay attention.
Along with having those extras sets of eyes to help you along, you will begin to see your own writing improve. You will also be able to find your own errors and those of others much quicker. This will help you become a better and more confident writer.
Now, while the critique group does not take the place of an editor, they do help you get to the point where you think you're ready for submission. At this point, it is always advisable to seek an editor to catch what you and your critique group missed. And, believe me, there will be something in your manuscript that wasn't picked up on.
When looking into joining a critique group, be sure the group has both new and experienced writers. The experienced writers will help you hone your craft through their critiques of your work.
If you haven’t already, join a critique group today.
Article by Karen Cioffi and reprinted from The Writing World newsletter. Subscribe today at http://thewritingworld.com and get How to Create an Optimized Website: 3 Essential Author/Writer Website Elements and 9 Must-Have Pages, along with writing and marketing tips, plus updates on free webinars.