The Oxford Critique Group formed about a year ago, and it’s been a rollercoaster of a year. Along the way we gained a few agents, acquired a few publishing deals (totalling 14 books!) and scored an Undiscovered Voices win. We graced several cafes, pubs and restaurants in our search for the perfect submission. We never found it. We did find members, though, and lost others; we misplaced characters and created voices. We swapped genres and switched age-ranges, ate way too much cake and had a fantastic time. Big Slushpile welcome to Teri Terry (who lives here), Nick Cross (he's back again), Paula Harrison, Tina Lemon, Nicky Thornton, Penny Schenk, Amy Butler-Greenfield and Jo Wyton. Oh wait. That's me.
Jo: Right, I’m the boss for the day.
Tina: (giggling) Yeah, right.
Jo: Oi. Less of the attitude Lemon. Ok, so why does everyone like this critique group? (If you don't like it, just don't say anything, ok? It'd only embarrass us.)
Paula: Of course we do – we love it! This group is very kind, but also amazingly perceptive. You lift my spirits and my writing. I wouldn’t brave the M40 and the Oxford one-way system for anything less!
Teri: ...and I wouldn't brave Paula's driving for anything less! But being serious for a moment, one thing I find very useful is listening to varied opinions on both my own work and that of others. Often something bugs me without much definition, but by the time I hear a few of the others, I see why. It’s helped me hone my critical skills in my own editing.
Nick: To be honest, when Amy and I decided to kick some life into Oxford SCBWI, I envisaged we might start a friendly critique group with three or four people giving each other mutual support and writing about magical pixies. What I actually got was eight people and a phenomenal brains-trust of writers on the cusp of success. I’ve had some of the most perceptive critique I’ve ever received from the Oxford group, as well as the friendly mutual support I craved. But no magical pixies. Yet.
So here’s to critique groups the world over, because your families and friends might have given up trying to work out what you’re talking about, but your crit group buddies will always understand completely!
Merry Christmas and Happy Great-Critique-Group-Finding New Year from the Oxford SCBWI Critique Group.