Posted by: Kathy Temean | July 21, 2022

25 Writers Group Critique Questions

GUSTAVO RAMOS: Featured on Illustrator Saturday

Nowadays, with everyone getting used to having meetings online. Writers and Illustrators who haven’t joined a critique group, should consider joining an online group. There are a lot of pluses to online groups. They open you up a broader range of writers, because you don’t have to worry about coordinating meeting locations and times.  Another plus is you can work on other people’s submissions when it is convenient for you and since the pool of  people is larger, you can join a group of like-minded writers. That might not be an easy task if you are limited by geography.


The best way to do this is to sign up for a writer and/or illustrator workshop. One where you can sign up to join a group and work with them on your manuscript. This gives you some hands-on interaction with other writers. We do that as part of the online Virtual Writer Retreats that Writing and Illustrating puts together. Many writers have formed online critique groups that have and stay together after the few months they have spent working together. It’s a good test drive to see who works with your type of books and blends with your personality. Other online workshops like the SCBWI form groups during their events.


Always start with the positive. Don’t say things like this will be good when you learn to write or if it is illustrated, don’t say things like this would be good if you changed you style. As soon, as you say something like that, the person you are critiquing will close down and nothing will be accomplished.

Here is a list of questions to ask yourself as your review a manuscript:

1.Did the first page grab your attention? If not, what could be saved to later and what could be added to make the reader want to read more?

2. Are there opening hooks (for both the start of the manuscript and the beginning of each chapter,) as well as hooks at the end of chapters?

3. Did the story hold your interest? If not, where did it lose you? This is important information, so you need to be able to provide details and new ideas.

4. Is the conflict strong, or is it contrived and something a conversation could resolve?

5. Were you able to suspend disbelief?

6. Does the character face obstacles in their quest to get what they want? Would more help build the story arc?

7. What is the main character’s overarching trait? Could it be emphasized to make the MC more interesting?

8. What is the story problem? Whose problem is it?

9. How is the character revealed in the story: Through narration? dialogue? or in some other way? Would there be a better way to reveal the character of the MC or another character in the book?

10. Is there too much narrative? Too many flashbacks? Point out places.

11. Is story well-paced, or slow and sagging in places?

12. Any problems with point of view? If there are multiple points of view, are the POV changes handled well?

13. As to back story: Is it woven into the story, or are there any info dumps or dialogue dumps?

14. How does the story relate to the emotional world of a child, adolescent, or young adult?

15. Point out sentences that are not clear, or need to be reworded.

16. Is there plenty of white space, or is the writing dense? (In other words, are the paragraphs short and interspersed with dialogue, or are they long blocks of type running a half page—or more)

17. Are the senses involved? (description of smell, touch, taste). Do you see places where they could be added?

18. Setting? Does it seem real? Point out places where the addition of a few details would add to the scene

19. Accuracy and consistency: Are facts accurate, (no cell phones in the 1700s, for example) and consistent (blue eyes don’t turn green later in book).

20. Were you able to suspend disbelief?

21. Is the ending satisfying? What emotion does it leave you with?

Not all the above questions work for picture books. Here are some:

22. Is the voice didactic? Please give the writer ideas how to get around this in their story.

23. Does the main character solve their own problem? If not, how could this be tweaked?

24. Does the story have at least 12 illustrations that be used to tell the story?

25. If it is a rhyming picture book, does the story have a regular meter? Is the rhyme perfect or does the rhyme lead the story? Give examples of weak or forced rhyme in the story for the writer to consider.

Click banner to read about the round table peer critiques.

Talk tomorrow,



  1. Reblogged this on All About Writing and more.


  2. Great advice. Thanks a bunch!


  3. Great list, thank you for sharing!


  4. This is awesome! Thanks, Kathy!


  5. Such great questions, not only to ask when one is reading another’s work, but, after completing a first draft, asking oneself about one’s own work.


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