Critique Partners: What to look for & how to be a great one

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Critique partners. You can’t get through the writing journey without one or two. Maybe you can, but I’d highly advise against it. Finding a great CP is a lot like dating. There’s the excitement of possibilities, the searching, the awkward first “dates”, and the one.

I went through several CPs before I finally found Candice. Some didn’t make it past the first email, some dumped me, I dumped some, others lasted a little while before we went our separate ways. There are lots of places you can look for a CP, but we’re not discussing that today. We’re going to talk about what to look for and how to be a great one.

What to look for

1. Someone whose writing style you enjoy. You are going to be reading that person’s writing for a looooong time. Make sure it’s something you want to read.

2. Find someone who loves your writing as much or more than you do. The writing game is a hard one. Sometimes you need a little kick in the pants to keep going. We’ve all gotten to that point where we feel our writing is the worst thing ever, no one will ever want to read it, we aren’t at all creative, etc., etc. It’s nice to have someone tell you they miss your MC and ask when they get to hear more.

3. A critique style you enjoy. A lot of times I would send one of my original drafts of a chapter to a potential CP, just to see how’d they critique it. I knew what needed to be fixed, where things didn’t make sense, and I knew there was a lot of it. I wanted to be sure that they wouldn’t be afraid to point it out and that I liked the suggestions they offered.
*Remember you don’t have to do everything they suggest. You know you’re story the best.
**Look at that, I made a rhyme!

How to be a great CP

1. Be honest. If something feels off to you, let them know. They may have decided half through the story to change Ricky’s name to Mickey and forgot to fix their change in a few spots. Or maybe the plot is lining up. Whatever it is, let them know.

2. Praise! Just as important as pointing out the bad is highlighting the good. Let them know if a scene made you laugh, if the LI sounds dreamy, or if their description of the ice cream sundae had you craving Cold Stone.

3. Try not to get butt-hurt. Occasionally, just like in any relationship, you and your beloved CP are going to have disagreements on each other’s stories. Let them slide. You know your story best, and they know theirs. On the other hand, if you have a couple people say the same thing on a section that you’re adamant about, maybe it is time to take another look at it.

You may decide to be strictly business with your CP and discuss only writing related things, but more thank likely, you’ll find a great friend. Candice and I text weekly about life and writing. I let her know when my son got a toy stuck up his nose and she made sure to check in and see how he was doing the next day.*

What do you look for in a critique partner?

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*Just in case you were wondering, the darn kid ended up having nothing up his nose! All that worry for nothing. 🙂