KBR Critique Group Recharge:
Critique groups can be a tremendously useful method for getting feedback on manuscripts. Sometimes, though, they don't work as well as they can. They can stagnate, morph into support groups, suffer from conflicts, or not address the needs of all of their members. Even when they are running well, there are always ways they could run even better.
This "recharge" workshop will help a critique group work better, and teaches techniques for varying the focus, dealing with problems, and generally keeping your group working at its best. We--Eileen Robinson and Harold Underdown of Kids Book Revisions--will come to you to teach you a variety of techniques, add our perspective to your critique of current manuscripts, and oversee "model" the process of trying out new approaches for your group.
This sample assumes a 9-5 schedule. We can alter the schedule or the topics covered to fit your needs.
Our recommended reference: The Writing and Critique Group Survival Guide, by Becky Levine (we will give copies of this to all students).
In advance: Send us the manuscripts on which you want our feedback. Group will also need to have sufficient copies of pieces to be critiqued. We aim to give all members of the group feedback over the course of the day: we will set up the details of this aspect of the workshop based on the number of members and the agreed schedule.
9:15 Welcome, introductions, and review of schedule.
9:30 Introduction: How a Critique Group Works:
How to give meaningful yet honest responses. What works and what doesn't. Group dynamics and how to recognize both positive and negative dynamics. Discussion in relation to your group.
10:15 Refocusing your critique group
The experience of your critique group around issues such as...
- When you have people in the group at various levels (published, unpublished, beginners and veterans)
- When there is only picture book or nonfiction writer in the group, how can they get what you need?
- Discovering strengths among the members of the critique and giving everyone a voice
- The particular concerns and strengths of your group
11:15 Critiquing the Big Picture and Small Picture: How to get different levels of feedback.
Samples read aloud, with responses: Writers will read aloud from their manuscripts as we (and members of the group) try out both big and small picture issues and strengths.
2:00 Apply lessons learned before lunch to a session of your group, with HU and ER as participant observers. The group can try out one particular technique with all manuscripts, or different ones on each, as seems best to the members.
3:30 Discussion of how the group work went, and of how critique groups fit into the revision process.
3:45 Group continues with critiquing during brief one-on-one feedback and goal-setting meetings with ER or HU (in which we give members any feedback not already covered and discuss where they might go next with their manuscripts.
5:00 Our "take-away" suggestions for your group and wrap-up, with questions.
Setting Up This Workshop: Please write a brief note to Eileen Robinson, via email, telling us about your group, including information on number of members, where you are based, what kinds of manuscripts your members have, and any concerns or goals your group wants to bring to the workshop. We will respond with any questions we have and will work with you to find a time for our visit. Please review the details on our Critique Group Recharge page to see what fees and other costs to expect. We will set up the workshop schedule you want and give you a firm quote of the total cost in writing.
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