Today as I prepare for another day of revising and editing, I’m filled with gratitude for my critique groups. They continually save the day by noticing foibles in my work. At our metro-wide MN Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators meet-up on Tuesday night, one member noticed that I said something nice about an angle worm.
“I hate to be so picky, but earthworms are an invasive species taking over our entire ecosystem. I’d definitely cut these two sentences that say they are good for the environment.” (I’m paraphrasing. He expressed more passion and eloquence.)
Who knew? My dad always told me angle worms were the gardener’s friend, because they aerated the soil. Thanks to my eco-minded friend — POOF — no earthworm protestors will picket my future book signings. (This is an extremely hopeful post.)
Another writer friend observed that my main character lacked empathy concerning another character’s speech impediment. She surmised that her son, who struggles with his speech, would find this offensive. I envisioned big tears splatting on my book pages from sad children with deflating self-esteems. Thanks to my compassionate, motherly friend — POOF — no tears or hurt feelings. (I hope.)
Another friend suggested that some of the fruits and vegetables harvested in my garden scenes might not be in season at the same time and another advised that the process of deadheading is more for petunias than cucumbers. POOF — no angry or annoyed gardeners…
These writers’ recommendations lead me to make small changes that make a world of difference. Because of them, my words won’t cause unsuspecting children to cause a catastrophic earthworm invasion — or to languish at gardening or confidence. Considering the awesome responsibility of writing for children, there’s nothing more valuable than candid critique friends — especially when they’re smart.