Critique Partners

friendly critI think everyone needs a critique partner, even non-writers. Okay, those who don’t know the thrill of filling blank pages with words might call them BFFs, but it means the same.

Someone you trust with a treasured possession.
Someone who knows your deep secrets, hopes and fears.
Someone who will be there for you at your most vulnerable or when floating high.

A critique partner (CP) is invaluable in improving your writing skills. Whether it be craft issues, plot problems or plain grammar your CP is emotionally removed from your story, they’re a second set of eyes.

But like any relationship it’s a two way street. Support needs to go both ways. You need to express clearly to your CP your expectations, what you’d like them to do for you when reading your work and understand you both have deadlines, family and a life beyond writing. As for the CP, you need to be kind, highlight the positive, be constructive (not just critical), be helpful and reliable. And you must accept your carefully worded comments might get thrown out the window.6-1

If you don’t have one, get one – I’d hate to be travelling this journey alone.Anti_Nasty_Critique_stamp_by_emptyidentityentity

Do you have a critique partner? How have they helped you with your journey?

Romance Writers of Australia have a critique partner scheme, so if you’re looking for a CP, visit http://www.romanceaustralia.com/members/critpartners.asp (you need to be an RWA member).

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10 Comments

  1. Hi Anita, I am blessed with the most amazing critique partners in Cathleen Ross and the members of the RWA Turramurra (NSW) writing group. We give each other honest (unflinching but kind) criticism, suggestions for improvement and unfailing moral support. Elizabeth Lhuede has been there for me at 3.30 AM (yes I said AM!) when I have been fighting to meet a deadline.
    The wonderful Isolde Martyn (our first Australian RITA winner) founded this group . In the years since I joined Isolde got published, I got published, Anna Campbell got published (she’s now in Queensland and we’re still on each other’s teams!) and most recently Christine Stinson got published. Others are so close I’m sure we will be celebrating with champagne in the not-too-distant future.
    I’m not saying we would not have got published without our critique partners – but boy did that support and feedback help.
    I also belong to the Mosman RWA group that Cathleen heads. I have had wonderful support from the core members of that group too.
    I met all these people through RWAustralia and they have all become friends.
    I can’t speak more highly for a supportive critique group. (I know there can be the other type too, but fortunately I have not experienced them.)
    KANDY SHEPHERD

    Reply
  2. Oh definitely CPs help – especially the right ones. I’ve been blessed by having a great CP with Fi and also have the Bootcampers 101 group to bounce things around with. Really supportive – & my writing has improved immensely.

    Reply
  3. Heather Boyd

     /  September 3, 2009

    I joined my yahoo historical critique group a year ago and could not have grown as a writer as fast without them. My eight American crit parters are really good people. Good writers themselves, honest and kind with feedback when the story just doesnt make sense, forgiving of my lousy punctuation skills, Aussie expressions that get lost in translations, knowlegeable and sharing of research and information.

    I’ve learnt so much I think because they all have different strenghts. We have a grammar queen (and she wants a tiara), plot doctors, query queens. Most of us love the regency era and read it avidly. Following another persons story progress is great fun too. I enjoy doing the critiques for them even if they ignore my suggestions. They use what they like and toss the rest.

    Four members have achieved publication since I joined the group and its really interesting hearing all about that. Crit groups are great if you can find the one where you belong. :o)

    Reply
  4. Anita Joy

     /  September 3, 2009

    Kandy, Eleni and Heather – sounds like you all have such positive experiences with critique groups and partners. I’m lucky enough to have the same, and feel for anyone who isn’t so fortunate (and I’ve heard some of the stories by some of the unlucky ones).

    You could tell at the conference what a wonderful thing CP’s are, as so many people I met introduced the people they were hugging, laughing with and spending their time with as ‘my CP …..’

    Reply
  5. Louise Berry

     /  September 5, 2009

    I tried to go to the critique partner page but it was not found – I would really like to find a critique partner for my suspense romance book

    Please help

    Reply
  6. Anita Joy

     /  September 5, 2009

    Louise, I tried the page and it worked for me, so I’ll email the info to you off-loop.
    Anita :o)

    Reply
  7. Having never had a CP or two until just this year the obvious benefit is being able to bounce ideas off each other and see what appeals to you. More often than not just a simple idea or comment will stimulate your muse enough to get you back on track. And if you have a good CP then they’ll also call you on the parts of your WIP where it just doesn’t work.
    Finding that really good CP though takes time. I think you need someone who is about the same level of writing experience as you and “just gets” your work if you’re to really benefit from one another.
    The CP program is a huge plus for our writers.

    Reply
  8. Love to hear stories about successful critique partnerships. Btw, I have the best crit partner, Anita *wink*.

    Reply
  9. Melissa Smith

     /  September 9, 2009

    Hi:) Just coming in with 2 hats on. Firstly, as a writer I would be lost without my wonderful CP’s. Life before them was characterized by backstory avalanches and head hopping frenzies. Now life with them is much less hazardous:)

    Secondly, as a team member of the RWA-RWNZ critique partner register, have seen first hand the value of a CP on both a professional and personal level. Not only are CP’s invaluable for looking at things through fresh eyes, for providing a supportive, safe place in which to take risks and grow, but they can also lead to lifelong friendships:)

    Anyone interested in finding a CP(s) please follow the link on the RWA website. The process of joining the register is very simple but the benefits will be huge:)

    Reply
  10. I couldn’t agree with you all more. And Heather, being an American writing a story set in Australia, I understand exactly what you mean about the importance of having “natives” in your inner circle.

    I joined RWAustralia for the express purpose of finding people who could help me work out the language, culture, and setting of my paranormal romance. I got all that in spades (thank you *all*, by the way. I still learn tons just listening to you guys talk in the chat room!), and along the way, I lucked up with a fantastic CP whom I can’t live without. You know who you are. :-)

    So yes, if you don’t have a CP, go find one. Now. You won’t regret it.

    Kendall Grey

    Reply

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