Writers at all stages of their careers benefit from new eyes reading their words. Feedback provides valuable information, especially if the feedback is from writers who understand what to look for in a manuscript. A critique should focus on a piece in two ways: the overall story and specific parts, also known as the big picture and the small picture.
Overall story evaluation includes character assessment: Are the character believable? Does each character have unique traits, such as speaking differently. Feedback I once received from an editor stated that two of my characters were too much alike. As I reviewed the manuscript, I had to agree. Until she pointed out the flaw in my writing, I had not noticed it.
The specific parts critique is a line-by-line evaluation that focuses on word choice, transitions, action verbs, grammar, etc.
Critique groups are basically large online groups, forums, and small personal groups. The large online groups offer critiques from writes at different stages of their careers. Some writers love this type of feedback. Go online and type “children’s writers critique group” and you’ll find lots of information and a variety of groups. With critique forums, you post your story on a forum and receive feedback. Of course, you will be expected to provide critiques for other writers, also. My critique group began with four members a few years ago. We are now down to two, but we provide more detailed feedback and more often, if needed, than if we were members of a large group.
If you prefer face-to-face contact with a critique group, you can find members locally. Go to the local bookstore, library, or college and post signs requesting a sign-up of the group. You’ll probably find several people in your community that want to participate.