Resources for writers

  • Pro SVS OG

    After realizing that all my experience with writing for adults is worth nil when it comes to writing for children, I started to look around for resources around improving writing, specifically geared towards writing for children. Apart from getting a ton of books (I am weird that way), I came across a couple of online resources and I wondered if anyone here has experience with them.

    KidLit College
    This has been recommended to me, but it seems very expensive, so I am hesitating before diving in. I would be particularly interested if anyone has experience with this.

    Critique Circle
    Is the MOOC equivalent of a critique group. It is free, so I made an account. The registration process is a bit lengthy. One has to critique at least one manuscript before being allowed to submit anything (which makes sense). It does seem very impersonal, though. I critiqued a few manuscripts but have not submitted anything yet.

    This is a platform, and has some moderate costs (about 7-10 USD/month). I have made an account just to see how it works, and I am still not totally sure. It seems to be a mixture of a online dating portal for critique groups and an app that allows to manage submissions and critiques. I have joined one of the groups, but one can also use it to create an own critique group. Maybe if there are other people interested in a critique group for picture books, that could be a place to meet. One can build a private mini-forum, invite other people in and use the tools provided by the platform to manage the submissions and the critiques.
    The only picture book group there does not accept additional members, so I can only submit my writing exercises for MG at the moment.

    Do you know of any other resources, or do you have any experience with these?

  • I'm glad you posted about this. You should request to join Kidlit411 on Facebook. They have some good resources, and a lot of writers and illustrators post there.

    12x12 is something I have wanted to do, but I missed the enrollment this time around and have to wait until next year. I will post here as I find more resources.

  • Pro SVS OG

    @Eric-Castleman Thanks for the tip! Yes, everyone keeps mentioning 12x12, but it is too late for that. Another one that gets mentioned is NaNoWriMo, so maybe that one this year.
    There seem to be a lot of generic resources that keep repeating the same stuff over and over again.... number of pages, age ranges, text and illustrations playing together, etc....
    I guess I am hoping to find the SVS equivalent for writers and so far I have been unsuccessful.

  • @smceccarelli I'd love to find an SVS-equivalent for writers myself! I'm not quite sure it exists though. And I as well have bought MANY books on craft haha!

    There's also the Children's Book Academy - they have a number of courses for writers by age group. I've taken the Middle Grade writing one myself, but not the picture book or chapter book writing. I do find them to be unorganized and far too wordy with their instructions for everything which gets under my skin, but if you can get past that the content is totally worth it. You can sign up for critique groups during the course and one of the draws is their "golden ticket" contest where you'll get your work in front of a number of editors/agents. If they like what they see they'll request you submit to them (although you already have an agent, so that wouldn't be as much of a draw for you). I think the courses are generally 5 weeks in duration, with new content posted 6 days per week in the form of posts to read, handouts and video learning and interviews. Then there's a few live sessions where they'll give feedback on your WIP.

    I keep hearing about 12x12 too - I wish I'd joined before the deadline passed for this year!

    What are you looking for more so though - an online critique group/forum, or courses, or both? SCBWI also has a forum where you can connect with a critique group if that's what you're after. I go to an in-person SCBWI critique group every month for writers, but I sometimes find it too infrequent and I'd just like to connect with someone online quicker. I do have an online critique buddy for MG (not for PBs though) and it's great going back and forth with her. If you'd like to swap picture book manuscripts with me ever feel free to email me - danette [dot] byatt [at] gmail [dot] com 🙂 And that goes for anyone else on here reading this - maybe the SVS'ers who write would like to join in on an online critique group! Outside of this forum though - I feel uneasy about posting my entire manuscript on an open online forum. Emailing to a select few people is probably a more secure and trustworthy way to go. Not that I think there's shifty people lurking on here - but, you just never know.

  • Pro SVS OG

    @DanetteDraws Thank you! This is very useful - especially the question: what am I looking for....
    I think what I would like is a course that is the real-life equivalent of Ursula Le Guin's "Steering the Craft" coupled with a critique group. I attended an adult writing workshop once that was like that: short and to-the-point instructional units, with lots of examples, followed by writing exercises, followed by critique on the exercises - very fast paced and with a discovery at every turn (like with illustration, you only really understand any aspect of writing if you try to use it in a.writing piece yourself). I would love to do and critique writing exercises targeted for children's writing, so that I can force myself through the volume of work needed to become good at anything - and with some form of accountability.
    I have joined online critique groups, but a critique every 4 to 6 weeks is a glacial time...especially if you need to critique others to be able to submit yours. It may work for "the opus magnum" one is working on, but not for writing exercises.
    I guess I am describing art school, but for writing. Maybe you only get this type of "pushy" learning environment in a school setting...
    I would love to exchange PB manuscripts with any of the SVS-lers. My current one makes little sense, because I am working on it with my agent (and she has the last and final word anyhow), but I have an idea for a wordless PB that I would love to discuss with writer/illustrators. Would you be interested in a swap?

  • SVS OG

    @DanetteDraws I was in a critique group but it onluy met about 3 times with 4 people and the only time everyone showed up was the first night. I have sent some things to one of the ladies on google docs and she me but, I just requested to join an online scbwi group. Haven't heard anything. Maybe we could create one here?

  • @smceccarelli A course like what you describe would be wonderful - I agree, putting into practice through exercises and getting those critiqued would be an excellent way to get better at the craft of writing. Maybe someone will chime in with a suggestion for something like this - if so, I'd be definitely interested myself!

    In the meanwhile, I'd love to swap manuscripts (or, whatever format your wordless story will be crafted as) with you, and you too @Marsha-Kay-Ottum-Owen. Marsha - I know what you're saying about lack of accountability - or, commitment to begin with - with critique partners - I've had that before too! It's super frustrating. If someone goes to the effort of critiquing a partner's work, that partner should respect their own promise and that person's time by returning the favour and putting in an honest effort to boot. We're professionals though so that won't be us 😉

  • Hi @smceccarelli ! Maybe someone mentioned it already, but have you listened to the writing picture book class that SVSlearn offers ? It is quite good!

    Thanks for the other ressources, I will check them out!

    @DanetteDraws Sign me in if you do such a group! Even if none of us are professional writers, I fell we could still learn from each others!

  • Pro SVS OG

    @NoWayMe I have, thank you! I also have Ann Whitford's book - it's a book I reference often. Sometimes I think it says all that needs to be said...

  • Pro SVS OG

    @DanetteDraws, @Marsha-Kay-Ottum-Owen Yes, would love to swap. At the moment my wordless book is just a page-by-page description of what the illustrations will be. Even that is not quite done, but I will finish it and get ready to share.
    Looking forward to critiquing yours!
    My e-mail address is

  • @smceccarelli @Marsha-Kay-Ottum-Owen @NoWayMe - do you all have Facebook? I generally just use Facebook for private/personal use, but what I could do is create a private group (one where you can only join by invite) so that we can talk on there as if it were a forum, and also share documents with one another in a centralized place. Let me know your thoughts on that! If you think it's a good idea, I can create it and invite you guys to join the group. Just let me know what your name is on Facebook so that I can find you. 🙂

  • @DanetteDraws Great plan! My name is Noemie Gionet Landry on facebook 🙂

  • Pro SVS OG

    @DanetteDraws Simona Ceccarelli is my Facebook name. With the same avatar pic I use here!

  • @smceccarelli @NoWayMe Okay, I set up the Facebook group! I actually had to invite you by email (it wouldn't let me look up anyone by name unless they were on my friend's list already) - but luckily both your email addresses were easy to find on your websites 🙂

    Once you join I'll make you admins too. And @Marsha-Kay-Ottum-Owen let me know if you're still interested and what your email address is so I can invite you too.

  • SVS OG

    This is a great idea! My current picture book idea is still a WIP, and I'm not quite ready with it yet...but would like to share it when ready, and in the meantime I'd love to help critique/work through everyone else's work...(what's not to like about crafting a good story?). I am Dulcie Mascord on Facebook, and dulciemascord [at] via email 🙂

  • @Dulcie awesome, would be great to have you! I sent you an invite to the group 🙂

  • SVS OG

    @DanetteDraws Thanks for inviting me! I tried the link on the email and unfortunately got the message 'Sorry, this content isn't available right now. The link you followed may have expired, or the page may only be visible to an audience you're not in.'

    Maybe I don't have permission to see the page yet, or something?

  • @Dulcie Oh no! I don't know what's up with that. It should work. I just sent you another 'reminder' email. Maybe the link in the new email will work?

  • SVS OG

    Hmm, that is odd, the new link is just the same. I have an idea - you could try a different email, {edited out} [at] idea if that will work, but worth a try.

  • @Dulcie Okay, sent! Which email do you use for your own Facebook profile? I wonder if the email might already need to be connected to a profile...

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