Anna Dewdney, books, children's, Christopher Paul Curtis, Critique Partners, Eric Carle, Gail Carson Levine, Jane Yolen, Laurie Halse Anderson, literature, Mac Barnett, Myra McEntire, picture books, writing, young adult
When you are a writer, one thing that is really important is a critiquing partner or group. I am learning this right now as I am on the search for the perfect critiquing partners for me. Having read multiple articles and blog posts on this subject, it is apparent to me that this is something you really need. You need a team that can support and push you, a team that can and will hold you accountable, a team that will be honest and not just blow sunshine your way…you get the drift. So, I have been putting a lot of thought and time into this.
Then, last night before I fell asleep, I started thinking about what if I could put together my own critique group with people that I hand choose? My own personal Dream Team of critiquing, if you will. I started imagining different authors and who I would choose. Why would I choose them? What did they have that I loved and admired. It was a difficult choice for me. I happen to be a fan of several authors. And then, because I write children’s picture books and am working on YA as well, I had to decide which one I would focus on for this dream team. I decided I would focus on the YA for now. Although, the children’s Dream Team is forming in my mind as I type too. Maybe I will add that down at the bottom…
So, here is my critiquing Dream Team for my YA novels. Not that this would ever come to fruition, but I thought it was fun so I would share it with you. There are four authors, some old and some new, that I admire greatly and would want as a part. You might be surprised. JK Rowling and Stephenie Meyer are not in the grouping, although I would want to just sit down at lunch and fire random questions at them. I’d settle for a workshop they were giving too. I do admire them, especially JK’s business sense. I mean…come on! But this group is not for the business side of things. This is a group that will stretch me and cause me to think and write better.
First, I would want Gail Carson Levine. Why? Because she is able to take other worlds and stories and make you believe it could be real. She is a master at taking something we already have some idea about and turning it on it’s head and making it new again. Fairest is a perfect example of this. She is a weaver with her words that causes you to want to know more and to not get enough. I want to be this type of writer. I want my readers to feel that way when they read my stuff. As a critiquing partner, I believe she would expect the best and not accept anything else than a world that the reader could believe in and has authenticity.
Second, I would want Myra McEntire. Yes, I know she is probably a newer author to you, but after reading her debut novel, I know you will know of her before long, if you don’t already. So, why do I want Myra when I could be choosing Madeline L’Engle? Well…because she is a newly published author who knows exactly what it takes to publish now as well as write a fascinating book. Seriously, you should check out and read Hourglass if you haven’t already. Myra proves that she is a master at twists, turns, and the unexpected with this first book. Her writing is fast-paced, and that is one thing that I love. I don’t ever want to be one of those authors who writes a book that people say, “It took me 4 chapters (or the first 100 pages) before I could get into it.” I don’t like wasting my time, and I don’t want others to feel like they are wasting their’s on my books. I believe Myra would straight up tell me to get to the point and make it interesting along the way. On top of that, she is great at creating lovely characters that you want to know and become friends with. This I love also.
Third, I would want Laurie Halse Anderson. If you haven’t read anything by Laurie, then you are really missing out. Fever 1793 is one of my favorite books of all times. She is so good at historical fiction, and making you feel like you are living in a part of that time. She obviously takes her research seriously and considers the smallest, tiniest details in her writing. Because I love, and write, some historical fiction, I want her to keep me accountable and up to her standards. She also is not afraid to step on a few toes or make the reader feel slightly uncomfortable. And yet, when you read her books, you are surprisingly comfortable with being uncomfortable. Yes, I want that too.
Finally, I would want Christopher Paul Curtis on my team. Again, if you have never read his books, go get them NOW. The Watson’s Go to Birmingham-1963 is a brilliant read and eye-opening in so many ways. I love his ability to take you into a historical time through historical fiction and make you feel like a part of things. Like you are living next door to these characters and feeling every emotion they are feeling. Reading one of his books takes you to one of those yummy, delicious moments in your life with no food involved. I want his take on plot and well-thought out characters. Why are my characters doing what they are doing? I believe he would be the one to hold me accountable to that, and call me out when I don’t know.
While it might seem a weird mix to some, I know that I like reality with a bit of fantasy mixed in to my writing, or historical fiction with a bit of fantasy mixed in. I also like to make the reader really think and question. I believe this Dream Team would make sure I was doing all of that as well as telling a fantastic story.
And for those wondering, my children’s book Dream Team would be the following:
Eric Carle-Do you have to ask why? Really?
And….just for good measure, I’ll throw in my Fantasy Illustrator to…(drumroll please…)…Mark Teague.
Sigh…Dreaming is fun. What would your Dream Team look like? Tell me about it!