Friday, May 21, 2010

Critique Partners

Writers work in a vacuum most of the time. We sit alone at our desks with only the voices of our characters in our heads. That's not always a bad thing, but every once in awhile we need to get out from behind the computer screen and interact with other writers.

Getting feedback on your writing is a necessary part of the process and a very frightening part. For months sometimes years we sit alone crafting a story pouring our souls into it. Now we have to give it to someone to read and tell us what they think? For many writers we'd rather poke our eyes out.

What are we to do? Find critique partners of course, but not just any critique partner. A bad critique partner can make you want to give up writing for good. I know I had some once.

You must find partners who write on the same level you do. This doesn't mean the more experienced shouldn't help the beginner starting out on their journey. It takes time to learn the craft of writing and how to edit. You may not be getting the best feedback from someone who hasn't learned as much yet. But when they do, by all means think about becoming writing partners.

Your critique partners should be nice people. That sounds like an obvious one, but not everyone is nice about how they edit. There's a better way to say your piece needs some work than, "I hate your prologue." You want your critique partners to care about your work as much as you do. If they're vested in your work too they won't be jealous when you get "the call" before they do. They'll be proud of you and stand up and cheer because your characters are real for them too.

How do you find a good critique partner? Unfortunately, sometimes it's trial and error. Join a writing organization in your area. There's plenty in all different genres. Start asking around and talking to people in the group. Really pay attention to the vibes you're getting. Your instincts know when you've met the right person.

When I was looking for new critique partners I received an email from a woman who sounded like I did. She seemed to be at the same writing level I was. We agreed to meet. Another woman joined us. I knew instantly these were the right women for me. I felt the energy around us like a lightning bolt. They have been invaluable to me on my writing journey. I couldn't have accomplished all that have without them. I am as committed to their work as they are to mine. I owe a world of gratitude to Marykate and Shari. Not only are they wonderful writers, but they are fantastic people. (Okay, enough gushing. I'm going to make their heads huge! LOL!!! Just kidding ladies. I love you!)

Talk to you later...


  1. I want to be part of that great group, lol! You're right, Stacey, good CPs are a challenge to find. I find that I need different things at different times. Sometimes I want to know if a scene 'works', seems contrived, etc. Other times, I just want to know the reader's emotional reaction. Other times, tell me how lousy it is and tell me what you might do to fix it--all in loving, gentle words, please.

    Joanna Aislinn
    The Wild Rose Press

  2. what I love about good CPs is they know what you need sometimes even when you don't. And always with kind words. That's one of the things that makes them so great.