Online eCritique Group: Do you need one?

To critique or not to critique, that is the question. Here, Natalie Yates, goes through the benefits of belonging to an e-critique group and also the discipline it requires.

Are you desperately searching in the undergrowth for the motivation that you lost months ago? Would you like regular feedback on your work? Would you like online friendship and support to help you in your lonely existence as a writer? If you’ve answered yes to any of these, then an online eCritique group is for you!

And these are not the only positives of belonging to an eCritique group. Not only does it motivate you to meet monthly deadlines (or however often your group chooses to post) and not only does it make you feel as if you belong to a group with a common mission, it can also improve your writing. Actively critiquing another person’s writing helps you spot errors in your own work and gives you ideas for improvement.

And this is in addition to the obvious – every month you are guaranteed feedback that you can act on immediately. Feedback from an objective point of view – it’s not your partner, children or friend reading your work, it’s another writer, someone whose knowledge and experience might exceed your own. Or alternatively, if you feel you have bucket loads of skills and experience, then what better than to share it with another children’s writer? We are all seeking that thrill of seeing a child enjoying our work – imagine having a writing family out there supporting you from start to finish, cheering you on, or alternatively, imagine witnessing a story evolve from first draft to a book that ends up on a child’s bedside table.

So, how do you join or create an online critique group? Well, the SCBWI website has the answers for this. You can use the SCBWI BI Critique Group Finder on Facebook (paid-up members only) and once accepted, search for a suitable group according to which age range for which you write/illustrate.

Or you can create your own group with each other’s email accounts, setting up a blog page for your posts using Google Blogger for example, a closed Facebook group or a SCBWI Blue Board.
There are guidelines for those who aren’t used to critiquing other people’s work and don’t worry if this is the case – this is a skill which as well as your writing, will improve the more you do it.

It is important to note that, it does take discipline to be actively involved with an eCritique group. There is the extra workload involved with critiquing another person’s work and this takes time. Do you have the two to four hours it may take each month to critique a group’s work, which ideally should contain from three to eight people? And there is group etiquette to take into account, e.g. if there is a month where you have other deadlines to meet or become ill, then you can suspend your participation.

So, if you feel you can benefit from being a member of an on-line critique group and would like the extra support that this can bring, what are you waiting for?


Natalie Yates has been an SCBWI member since 2015. She has worked as a Teaching Assistant in many schools across East Yorkshire over the past seven years. Aside from that, she works as cook, cleaner, taxi driver & mentor to three girls, husband and two schnauzers. In her spare time, she loves to write YA and MG, mostly realistic fiction based on historical events. Her self-published novel, Michiko and the Match Girls is available on Amazon. She graduated from Hull University last year with a MA in Creative Writing and her novel, The Colour of Forgiveness, is currently out on submission.


A. M. Dassu is a member of the Words & Pictures editorial team, she manages the Events team and SCBWI BI events coverage.
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