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!