Defining a Good Critique Partner
What makes a good critique partner? More importantly, why do you need one? I mean, you read your words, your mom read them, and your dog, too. Everyone thinks you’re a genius. So why ask for more opinions?
Remember when you wore that new shirt, and your mom said it looked awesome? Then you saw a photo and decided to never seek her opinion again. Mom and your pet believe in you and think the world of you. Your critique partner simply wants your story to be its best. Critique partners--good honest ones--rarely lie to make you feel better.
First, a few terms:
Beta reader: a reader who reads a story before it is published and helps find errors or makes suggestions for improvement; works for free; can be a friend or stranger
Critique partner: a writer who provides feedback on your story; usually, you critique each other’s work; works for free; not a friend (yet!) or relative
Mom: a person who raised you, loves you, and will say your writing is flawless so as not to hurt your feelings (on the contrary, some parents will only find your flaws--boo!) works for love; not reliable
A critique partner (CP) can provide:
1. Objectivity: your CP is not invested in your story as is. They are trying to understand it, locate plot holes, and tell you what needs fixing.
2. Expertise: your CP is a writer, too. That means they know what to look for in a story. They are familiar with story arcs, character development, genres, etc.
3. Suggestions: your CP has written, edited, and revised stories. They have their own bag of tricks for how to handle story problems. They may have resources you have not heard of.
A good critique partner is someone who:
1. Writes in a similar genre as you
2. Has a flexible schedule or one that works with yours (so you can meet IRL or online)
3. Gets your writing
4. Is near your level of writing and can provide feedback that will help you improve
5. You get along with
How to find a critique partner:
1. Twitter often has ‘events’ for writers to tweet and connect
2. Check out your local library or community center’s ‘boards’
3. Children’s writers can join SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) where they have a CritConnect to find other writers
My mother always said, “Safety in numbers.” What she really meant was it’s more fun to work with others. Find your people, grow, and learn.
If you enjoyed this blog post, find me on Twitter, and let’s connect!
How to Create Comp Titles
If you’ve ever been in a reading slump and dragged yourself to the library or bookstore to find THE PERFECT BOOK to raise the zombie reader within, chances are you have played the comp game.
How to Build a World
Full disclosure: I did not enjoy Lord of the Rings. There was too much world I didn’t understand. There was so much to keep track of. In the book. Somehow, the movies brought it all to life for me, and I was able to follow more than when I was reading and doing the work.
Because I’m not a reader of stories with intricate world-building, I don’t write stories with intricate world-building.
That doesn’t mean I don’t craft my stories’ worlds before I write them. My worlds are just closer to the real world I live in than they are to the fantasy worlds of stories like Harry Potter, Hunger Games, or LOTR.
I write light fantasy, sometimes known as portal fantasies, where the characters live in the real world, but they are quickly immersed in a magical adventure. Either they step through a portal or they discover something ‘not of’ this world.
If this sounds like the stories you write or want to write, I have three simple tips for getting started on crafting your worlds.
These are just a few ideas to get you started. Even if you are writing a contemporary story, you need to build the world for that fictional place. Even if you are writing historical fiction, gathering sensory details can help you as the writer be more honest for the reader.
I hope these tips help you get going. I’d love to hear what you do to build the worlds of your stories.
How to win #NaNoWriMo
The deets: Winning NaNoWriMo requires completing a novel draft of at least 50,000 words during November.