Credibility of UCLA university?
@xin-li After three months in 12 x 12, I started watching the critique group openings on the Blueboard. I didn't really see the perfect fit (I wanted a group covering chapter books and picture books) so a few months later I started my own post on the Blueboard asking if anyone was interested. (I was also lurking around KidLit411 which also has critique and portfolio exchanges).
We had six people sign up initially. After two months, two members faded out, in that they didn't feel comfortable enough to share their work and eventually stop replying to emails. I totally understand that. It's difficult enough to share work in person, where people can watch your expressions and get a better understanding of you. It's harder when it's just words in front of total strangers. Sometimes people don't respond as kindheartedly as they might.
Some critique groups want everyone to be at the same level (it's debatable how that can be judged), others go with a group with different levels of experience (which is what I hoped for).
In the end it happened that I was the one with the most experience (traditionally and self published, editing experience, worked inside a traditional publishing house, college creative writing courses). Another member has self-published, edited, and taken courses (one of the chapter book manuscripts she recently shared is by far the best thing to come out of our group). The other two members hadn't been published. One had been writing for several years, and one was a novice who had just started the year before. I wasn't sure how the novice would work out, but because the group was small, I figured we could give her extra input if necessary.
A few months in, I found out that the novice was being harassed by the other unpublished writer. The other unpublished writer was trying to get her to quit the group and asked me to kick the novice out (of course, we kept the novice and suggested that the other writer find another group).
We debated trying to find more members but in the end decided to instead increase how much we share each month (originally it was one chapter or picture book a month). Now we share two to four chapters a month (still just one picture book though, because they often take more thought).
The novice turned out to be an excellent beta reader and her writing has improved markedly. Over the years, she's paid a lot to different writing programs, but she follows through and gets as much as she conceivably can out of them. She is impatient for experience.
Kerisa Greene last edited by
Hi @xin-li, I don't have any experience with UCLA Extension but I did take the Writing For Children course through the Children’s Book Writing Program at UCSD Extension. I specifically picked that course because it was taught by Marcie Colleen, a published author of picture and chapter books. I really enjoyed the course and we used the Writing Picture Books by Ann Whitford Paul in the class which was a great resource. I'm not sure if she still teaches that course but UCSD at least has a specific Children's Book Program. Hope this helps!
xin li last edited by xin li
@RachelArmington Thank you so much for sharing your experience of setting up and running a writers critique group. I especially appreciate that you shared handling with difficult situations within a critique group. Thank you so much. The information will definitely come handy in the future for me
Thank you so much @Kerisa-Greene. I will definitely check out the course. I read through Ann Whitford Paul's book last summer. I did not get out as much as I would like to. I feel this type of book really need a study group or a class to go through and do all the excise in order to really digest the information in the book. It is good to know there is a course available for that :-).
carolinebautista last edited by
@RachelArmington It's not so much comparing illustration to writing when 12 X 12 is an accountability group and svs is about education. Those two would be difficult to compare - with 12 X 12, the monthly webinars are set up to help people stay motivated and teach different aspects as they go through the year writing. They don't say what the webinars are, nor do they promise that the fundamentals of picture book writing will be covered, so it's too difficult to compare to what SVS offers.
I'm not sure which issues you had, but it does sound like 12 X 12 is the same. There are a lot of people and the facebook group moves too fast for me, but I've gotten a lot more than I expected out of it. Many of the members have done 12 X 12 for a few years already, so it's meant for all levels, just to helpyou keep writing. I knew it was an accountability group and didn't hold myself to doing 12 picture books, so maybe my expectations were very low, but it has still helped me write more.
Hi Caroline, as I said above, 12x12 isn't a fit for everyone (no group is a fit for everyone). I'm really glad that it has helped you so much. I've suggested 12 x 12 to writers who are looking for motivation or community. I was already a published author when I joined, and my main goal was to find a solid critique group. I jumped between the forum and Facebook group, but the critique groups dissolved pretty quickly or were filled...so I moved on to the Blueboard, where it was easier (for me personally) to find groups and partners.
I absolutely didn't mean to compare the two beyond the amount of content available. SVS offers tremendous resources and encouragement, even to people who aren't paying members.
At least when I was a member four years ago, 12 x 12 only gave access to their webinars for a month or so. My family teased me that it was actually 12 x 11 because J.H. skipped one month (J.H. even joked that no one probably noticed). This was during summer, when there was a definite drop in administrative presence.
Personally, I use SVS for both accountability and education. I wasn't expecting any education from 12 x 12. The only webinar where I learned anything was one by the Fan brothers, which was a tremendous catch.
carolinebautista last edited by
@RachelArmington I just wanted to help make sure it was clear to others what 12 X 12 is, because I wanted to agree with you! I can see now that it might take years to find people there, so I'm not sure I'll be able to pay that much for accountability. The gold level means you get to submit to agents every month or something, but I am not sure that would ever really work for me. I'm not great at connecting to people in the facebook group and can't see myself submitting to random agents each month.
It was harder to know what I was getting into with 12 X 12 because you only have access after you pay. The forum provided didn't have much activity, and although that's more my pace, I wasn't comfortable there. So I backed off, revised my ideas about how to use the membership, and joined the facebook group. It's hard to get support when you can't get yourself to speak up. Mostly, I can't keep up there, but it has helped me in surprising ways to see people's chatter. Trying to make the best of it has worked pretty well so far.
@carolinebautista Now that you mention it, if I had known what I would have access to and who would be the contributors and guests before I joined, I probably wouldn't have been so disappointed. The ads and the promos made it look so good! Each month when she announced the "ninja," I would get hopeful that I would get my official critique that month. I would dutifully read everything that month's ninja critiqued. There was one story I really wanted eyes on and wished we could choose what to be critiqued instead of leaving it to chance (I heard a lot of members wishing the same thing).
When I did finally get my "ninja" critique, it was from someone who hadn't been published herself, and she wasn't an agent or editor (she ran a website about kid's books). She was completely negative about my story...no critique sandwich from her! It was the one story I'd gotten some feedback on (two peer critiques), and both of those readers had mentioned the "city mouse, country mouse" spin. The ninja wasn't familiar with it, told me she didn't even want to read my story (huh?), and that I should introduce an adult character to show my child characters how to do things "right." I've had meaner critiques than that before, so I didn't let it get me too down, but when I read her critiques for other members, she had the same attitude. So I made sure to give each person she ninja-critiqued that month a peer critique with every positive part of their story detailed out. I was afraid she would turn off someone from writing at all.
Or maybe something bad was happening in that ninja's life at the time, and she normally is great.
I know a few people who happily pay membership to 12 x 12 just for the community and have only written one or two stories. I know a go-getter woman who got an agent in the first few months of her first year and has published several books since then. One of my critique partners wasn't really happy with the group but kept joining until she could pay for the gold membership..and then was disappointed when she received standard form rejections from the agents (she'd hoped to get feedback, good or bad).
I feel like the main engine of the group is cheer-leading/encouragement/motivation.
I was lucky enough to live in Boston for ten years...there were so many writing groups and night courses to choose from, all at different levels. It's so hard to find that same level of experience through the internet.
@RachelArmington Thank you so much for sharing your experience. It is something to always keep in mind: who is critiquing your work, and how much do you need to weigh her opinions?
From hearing your experience, I doubt 12x12 is my thing. I want to be selective with who I am sharing my manuscript with. I also think there is a danger of sharing a draft too early. I think I need to spend time working out what I wants to say first, then ask peers if I have said what I intended to say clearly. Sometimes, a good idea comes from a bunch of unrelated seemingly bad ideas. I had an experience once wrote a story I really like, based on a bunch of half baked stories on my hard disk. Exactly how the process works in my head, I have no clue. The only thing I knew is that I need time to let the connection happen in my head. If I had sent out these half baked stories to critique groups, I would have never gotten that good story I wrote, because other people's opinions would distract me from finding out what I want to say.
When I realised that, I shared my stories with writer friends, and my current art critique group less. I want to do the hard work of figuring out things a bit more before showing to other people. But I guess everyone works differently. I have friends who basically using conversation as a way of thinking. hehe...
Kim Hunter last edited by
UCLA is a major US university - part of the University of California system. I don't know anything about their writing courses but whatever you do, you'll need experienced people to read your work and give you feedback. There are some Youtube videos that can help like ones posted by people from Pixar. I wrote for Disney Animation when I was in college and would be happy to look at your stories for free.
@Kim-Hunter Hi. Kim. Thank you so much for your generous offer. I really appreciated that, and I might reach out to you in the future for story critiques
Currently, my focus is on developing writing habit, and keep improving the fundamentals. I write my own story ideas on the side from time to time. But what I am trying to do now is equivalent to practice drawing fundamentals, except for writing. I have a couple books about writing came with writing excises, and I intend to follow along. I would need feedback on my writings, and I will need continuous feedback. That is why I seek out for a writing critique group, or maybe more precisely, writing study partners
I almost draw daily for the last couple of years, for myself or for client. But I have no such a practice for writing, and I want to build one.
xin li last edited by xin li
BTW, I signed up for the writing course at UCLA, starting in the end of July. I will report back about how it goes if anyone is interested in. The course is about the fundamentals of fiction writing, using Janet Burroway´s Writing fiction as text book for the class.