By Donna Cangelosi
Every experienced children's writer I've met has recommended joining a critique group. I couldn't agree more. Fellow kid lit writers pump up the humor and heart in our stories, highlight things that are missing or need to be changed, and add to our stories in countless ways. But there's another reason why being in a critique group and surrounding oneself with other children's writers is absolutely essential: We understand one another!
I recently read my new story to a non-writer friend who kindly responded, "That's cute." When I shared the same story with fellow kid lit writers, they loved the story, understood how much hard work went into writing the draft, and appreciated my word choices. Children's writers are kindred spirits. We think alike and have a shared world view. Like kids, we notice the little things in life. The silly, ludicrous events. The out-of-the-ordinary facial expressions and mannerisms. Stuff that makes great picture books.
We are the adults in the bookstores and libraries, surrounded with kids' books instead of adult novels, even when we don't have kids in tow. Children's books line our bookshelves at home— beyond our kids' collections. We scatter little bits of paper with story ideas around our cars and houses. We're just different! And we need other people like us to share our ideas and passion.
So if you haven't already, partner up with other picture book writers. Join a critique group. Find a fellow writer-pal to brainstorm ideas. Doing so will give you a sense of camaraderie and mutual understanding and make the long ride to publication a joyful one.
The Takeaway: Partner up and keep writing!
Donna Cangelosi and Chana Stiefel are picture book critique partners & friends who are passionate about kids' books & are eager to share tidbits from their writing journey with other aspiring writers.