I often get questions from fellow writers about Critique Partners. What are they? Do we really need one? How can I find one? So, today, let's talk all things Critique Partners.
Critique partners (CPs) are fellow writers who give you feedback on your manuscript (or sections of your writing) in exchange for you providing feedback on theirs. They are typically free, as you work on a quid pro quo basis.
But, do I need a Critique Partner?
Yes. In my experience, they are one of the most valuable tools in the writing process. Not only will they give you constructive feedback about your plot, characters, settings, etc., but they are also writers. They get what you're going through. When I experienced self-doubt along the road to publishing my first novel, my amazing CPs were right there, encouraging me, reminding me how far I've come, and that my story was worth being told. And who doesn't need that every once in a while?
So, we get that CPs are amazing. Where do you find one of these magical creatures?
This is the hardest part, finding a CP who's a good fit. It can be a frustrating process, but once you find one (or a few), you likely get to work with them for years! So, it's well worth the effort.
I found my first CP, Rowan, in the chat of a SkillShare course. We were both taking the same marketing class, by the brilliant Jenna Moreci, and connected over our struggles with creating a social media presence. After exchanging samples via google docs, our feedback styles matched up nicely, and we have been good friends ever since. We actually don't write in the same genre, which works fine for us. She writes high fantasy, and I write contemporary fiction. This gives us unique perspectives for our work, and we respect the hell out of each other.
I met my second CP, Mike, on Twitter. I did an open call, looking for a contemporary fiction writer CP. I received a few replies, and after exchanging chapters, Mike and I were a great fit.
When speaking with my writer-friends, I discovered others have found CPs on: writers groups on Facebook, Instagram, and writing groups in their community.
Now, I'm in the warm and fuzzy place where I have supportive CPs, but I can tell you, it wasn't all rainbows and sunshine getting here. What's the saying? You have to kiss a few frogs before you find your prince. Let me tell you, I found a lot of frogs. After a couple of particularly hateful experiences, I was close to giving up on the whole idea of CPs. I learned that some people are not going to be a good fit. Some people believe that the only way to give feedback is to be "tough" (read: mean as hell). Some people are looking to sell you their editing services and will string you along for a couple of chapters, before "suggesting" you purchase their editing package. When you come across these people: run. The last thing you need is more negativity.
Beware, though. There is a difference between negativity (mean comments) and constructive feedback.
Mean comment: "Your main character is terrible. I hate her."
Constructive feedback: "In this chapter, your MC is coming across flat. I would love to gain some insight into her emotions. It'll help us connect more with her if we see how she felt about..."
Constructive feedback is crucial to bettering your writing. I know it can be hard to swallow, but I promise, it gets easier, and it will make your writing so much stronger.
Remember, to keep a strong CP, you need to be a strong CP, yourself. That means, giving insightful, constructive feedback (see above). Also, point out sections that make you laugh, cry, happy. If you only point out what needs to be fixed, it can be discouraging for your CP. It's so affirming to have someone laugh at the joke you wrote, or really feel the rage a character is experiencing. So, make sure you flag those paragraphs, as well as the ones that need some work.
*You can find CPs on twitter/Instagram/writing groups on facebook, through online classes, through college classes, through local writing groups.
*You don't have to say yes to everyone who offers to be your CP.
*Mean comments and constructive feedback aren't the same thing.
*Be a good CP if you want to keep your CP
It was so fun doing this guest post for Renee's blog! If you'd like another post diving into the CP process (like how to test out CP's), let Renee or I know. Maybe, just maybe, we can work out another collab.
She is a debut author, with a long-held love for writing. Her career has taken her in several directions as a registered nurse and professor before she settled into the comfortable chair and cozy sweater that is writing. Check out her debut contemporary fiction novel, The Secrets They Keep, on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Kobo.
Alison lives in a small town in South-Western Ontario, Canada, with her husband and daughter. When not writing, she loves to travel, be outdoors, and gaming.
Learn more at www.alisonhaines.ca
Word Crafting is a blog to help writers strive for excellence. If you would like to be a guest blogger, pitch me an idea.