NB: this was originally posted on There And Draft Again in August 2013, but I have tweaked it slightly to share with you again today.
Hello gentle reader,
Today I’d like to share a few tips about finding the right Critique Partner(s).
What is a Critique Partner?
A writer working alone always gets to a point where he needs another set of eyes to let him know how he can make his Work In Progress better. Beta readers can help by pointing out what they liked or disliked in the story’s plot, structure and characters. But their advice can only take the writer so far, because they are only readers, as their designation points out. Enter the Critique Partner. A Critique Partner is a writer, who can help another writer with all the aspects of his story, from plot holes to grammar mistakes.
Where can you find a Critique Partner?
If you’re lucky enough to have a local critique group, start there. But if you don’t have anyone in real life you feel can fill this role, look online.
– Social media is a good place to start, especially Twitter.
– Specialised websites also offer to help writers get in touch: Ladies Who Critique, How About We CP, CP Seek, She Writes, PublishingCrawl.
– Online writing conferences and writing contests are also a great way to find people who write your genre: WriteOnCon, PitchMadness, PitchMas, PitchWars, etc.
– For those of you writing MG/YA Fantasy, do check out the SCBWI forums and YA Writers Reddit.
– The National Novel Writing Months (NaNoWriMo, JuNoWriMo and CampNaNo) are also a good way to find writers in your genre.
– And don’t forget forums like Absolutewrite and Agent Query Connect.
How do I know I’ve found the right Critique Partner?
A CP’s feedback needs to be honest, constructive and helpful. But this works both ways: your feedback on your CP’s manuscript also needs to be honest, constructive and helpful. You need to agree on time frames, manuscript length and genre.
Most partnerships start with a casual conversation, then a first chapters swap. If you’re happy with the feedback received/given, you can move on to full manuscripts, and hopefully a long-term friendship!
How can you make it work?
Finding a good match isn’t easy: don’t be afraid to say ‘this isn’t working for me’ if you feel your CP’s feedback isn’t what you expect. Chances are you are going to be reading A LOT of each other’s writing in the next few years, so you need to be happy with each other’s schedules and comments. Balance is key: this is a partnership, and ideally both writers are at the same stage in their writing.
You know you’ve found the right CP if you feel this balance is there, and if you think your partnership works both ways. Hopefully this partnership turns into friendship, and your CP becomes the first person you turn to for anything related to your writing career, whether you’ve jut received a request for your manuscript or hit rock bottom while drafting your Work In Progress.
So tell me: do you have a hard time finding a CP? If you have a CP, where did you find each other? Let me know in the comments below!