A Note About Critique and Feedback at the Highlights Foundation

Most full-length Highlights Foundation workshops, whether in-person or online, generally include some kind of feedback or critique opportunity.

We do this for two key reasons.

    1. We believe that as the creative (in words and/or illustrations), you hold the roadmap to your story. Our job is to offer support, and at times, pass along new tools to help you on your journey.
    2. We know that storytelling centers on communication, and as such, working with other creatives will help you illuminate what you show and share with your reader.

What Feedback Looks Like in a Highlights Foundation Workshop
Feedback sessions in our workshops can come in several forms, both online and in-person.

  • Informal consultations
  • Scheduled one-to-one meetings/consults
  • Roundtable or peer critiques
  • First-page reviews or many-page reviews
  • Whole work in progress reviews
  • Workshopping sessions
  • Portfolio reviews
  • Other opportunities, depending on the offering

The format of the workshop you choose will determine the level of feedback/critique you will receive. We put these and scheduling details into each workshop agenda/description as soon as we have them, so that you may choose offerings that fit your style and professional goals.

For example, during a weekend intensive, or a course for beginning writers, the facilitators may offer a “consultation” in place of a written critique. Why? Sometimes it is just too early for written feedback. Sometimes new ideas are still percolating, and a written critique might cloud the creative process. Consultations are 1:1 conversations focused on your ideas, your stories, and your needs. This specific type of feedback is meant to help you discover a path forward.

For someone who has written and rewritten a novel many times, a different type of feedback is probably needed. Maybe they’ve received some feedback on pieces of the project, but not the whole. This writer probably needs a balance of that consultation with a whole novel review, because they are looking back as much as they are looking forward to see the whole picture. A whole novel critique with a written editorial letter and a 1:1 consultation could be just what is needed to set their story up for submission.

We try our best to look at the goals of the course and the goals of the attendees to make a plan for feedback that will be most useful. At times we make written feedback optional, both as a way to offer varying price points on courses and as a way to differentiate the offering for what a group of writers or illustrators might need.

Working with facilitators (whether they be faculty, guests, or your peers), we hope to help you find the right balance of feedback on your project. We want you to discover the choices that can help your work match your vision.


What Feedback Feels Like at the Highlights Foundation
Feedback may be structured differently at each offering, but our core philosophy remains the same:

This is your story; we are here to provide support.

One of the best approaches we know to shift the power of creativity to the creator through feedback is by asking questions.

What does this mean? It means that we won’t rewrite your work. We won’t take your story away from you. We’ll ask you to help point us toward your areas of need, and then we will ask guiding questions and offer ideas.

If we feel that something you are writing is harmful or stereotypical, we will always bring that to your attention.

In peer critique opportunities, we ask all participants to follow the same principles.


Processing Your Feedback
We hope that the questions raised in your feedback sessions, whether 1:1, written, or in small groups, offer you much to think about.

Processing feedback is a very personal activity. While it can take some people a moment to embrace a new idea, it can take some people a year (or more) to process something new. We invite you to come to your feedback sessions ready to listen, consider, and engage respectfully.

If you need help processing feedback, or brainstorming revision ideas, we encourage you to stay in touch with your writing community. If you are processing feedback during a workshop, please discuss your needs with a Highlights Foundation staff member. We love to talk about ideas, revision, and how we can create the very best stories for children.

If you are new to giving or receiving feedback, we invite you to reach out so that we can talk with you about the process.

You know the story you need to tell; we are here for support.