Who are we?
Children's Writers By the Sea is a Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) sponsored critique group of writers of Middle Grade or Young Adult fiction. We are members of SCBWI, attend annual regional SCBWI conferences and take writing workshops at Grub Street Writer’s Center or with established children’s book educators or editors. Several members are currently writing a second novel while sending out (or preparing to send out) manuscripts of their first work to agents and/or editors.
To learn more about our members, check out our About Us page.
Children’s Writers by the Sea (CWBS) was launched on December 13, 2008 after Paulette attended a local Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) leadership meeting with a friend and fellow writer, Marie Tobin. They learned what leaders felt kept their groups together and motivated group members toward publication. CWBS meets monthly in Newburyport. We are listed in New England SCBWI newsletters (insert link)
Our group goal is to improve our writing of children’s fiction through reading literary children’s fiction and books about the writing process, completing writing courses, attending writing conferences and workshops and sharing what we learn with group members. We support each others’ writing and pursuit of publication of our manuscripts through a combination of online and verbal critiques at our group meetings. Members give informed and supportive critique of the writing we share. We set annual individual and group goals.
How we exchange writing
We exchange our writing online on a rotating basis between monthly meetings. We critique using in text edits and critique guides we developed and periodically modify. Our guides address the draft manuscript in four sections: Act I, Act IIa, Act IIb, and Act III. We also developed and use a full manuscript critique guide.
With four members, we submit our own manuscript every four months, by Act. It takes 15 months to receive a critique for the four sections of the first draft and for the revised manuscript. Members can resubmit a section if they wish. This approach helps keep us writing and revising toward our goal of a polished manuscript ready to submit to publishers and agents in hopes of publication.
How our meetings are run
Our meeting agenda has several topics, with the main discussion, the manuscript critique of the month. The critiqued author leads the one hour discussion of the received feedback.
Agenda items for the second hour include sharing news of our progress toward our individual goals or writing submissions, conferences or contests we have heard of or attended, sharing what we learned. Members agree to meeting agendas. We alternate doing writing exercises and work on our annual goal—this year, preparing, contributing to and launching our group blog.
How we critique
Our Act-by-act critique guides help us standardize feedback to improve our writing.
The critique guides include questions specific to the manuscript being read: story flow or action plot: pace and end of chapter hooks/ segues; emotional plot and how it is in or out of pace with the main action plot; subplots and how they interweave with the main plot; plot point 1 and plot point 2 and act III climax; denouement; the main character and the undying goal, if and how the goal changes as the character faces challenges and develops; secondary characters; backstory, time, setting, mood and tone, readability, theme; dialogue, use of beats and balance with narrative and description; set piece, if used and if effective and appropriate to the story.
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