February 16, 2015
Getting the Most Out of a Writers Conference
Different Ways to be Critiqued
This is the fifth post in a short series about writers conferences and why it’s so important for writers, both newbies and experienced, to attend. This time we’ll look at the different ways you can have your work critiqued at most writers conferences.
“Have my work critiqued?” you might ask. “Why would I want anyone to look at my work? I have a novel all ready to submit to a publishing company, and I’m not about to rewrite it…or any part of it.”
Well, if that’s any writer’s attitude, I have one word to describe that person: foolish.
Types of Critiques: If you have plans to attend a writers conference, then by all means plan to have your work critiqued. Most conferences will offer several venues. A writer may choose to do one or several of them to get an objective opinion concerning the quality of writing and how the work can be made publishing ready:
- Attend classes where the faculty member asks the conferees to bring samples of their written work to class and you do a “work-in-progress” revision over the course of the conference. With the faculty member’s lectures and suggestions, each conferee in the class works on his/her pages, sometimes in class, sometimes in the evening to bring to class the next day.
- Attend another “work-in-progress” continuing class. This differs in that your sample pages will be sent to the faculty member ahead of time (with a fee) before the conference starts. He/she then critiques your sample pages, brings them to the conference, and you along with maybe eight or nine others in your class—class size is usually limited— revise during the continuing workshops each day with the faculty member’s mentoring and teaching basics.
- When you arrive at the conference, sign up to meet with one or several faculty members in freebie private (usually 15-minute) sessions. During these critique periods, you sit down with a faculty member and show him/her on the spot no more than five pages of your written work. The 15 minutes are spent with the faculty member reading the pages then making suggestions. If the faculty member is an editor of a publishing company, he/she might express interest in your work, so much so that he/she could want you to submit your work to the company for consideration. (It really does happen. This is how I got my contracts for the Keystone Stables Series by Zonderkidz, my homeschool helps book by New Leaf Press, and my Loves of Snyder County Series through an agent I met at a conference.)
- Register ahead of time with a fee to have a sample (usually 10 to 15 pages) critiqued by a particular faculty member whom you’ve chosen. The faculty member critiques the work before the conference then meets with you at the conference for a half hour, reviewing the critiqued work and making suggestions. He/she encourages the writer as well as gives invaluable advice to improve the work.
- Attend scheduled freebie critique meetings with your peers. Often, conferences will allot some time in the schedule for conferees (and sometimes a faculty member coordinator) to meet and discuss each other’s work. Usually two or three pages at the most are read out loud, and each one in attendance offers his/her opinion and suggestions. As you can see, most writers conferences feel it’s SO important to have conferees’ work critiqued, the directors will provide all kinds of opportunities for conferees to participate. Wise conferees, both newbies and experienced including published authors, will take advantage of any or all of these opportunities to improve their writing skills. A publishing contract might be right around the corner.
- Next time, we’ll do the sixth and last blog in this series about writers conferences. We’ll discuss relationships, responding to an editor’s request for you to submit to his/her publishing company, and odds and ends.