Writers Tip #5: Find a Critique Partner

This is a tricky topic for many writers. Finding a great critique partner can be one of the most frustrating parts about writing. It’s hard to find someone you work well with, and even harder to find someone who can push you without being rude. It’s almost miracle when you find a great critique partner.

How do you find a critique partner? Usually you have to join a writers group, see my Writers Tip #1. Put your feelers out and you’ll be amazed at what you get back. You can join a critique group, like I did, and find people who are looking for honest feedback. Or you can let it develop out of a natural friendship you make with a fellow writer. All you have to do is ask.  Sometimes you can make it work with someone you know outside of a writers group, but they have to write well. It takes a really good writer to be a great critique partner. Because many amateur writers edit too much and try to change the original voice of the piece. A great critiquer will make suggestions, guide you to possible conclusions, and let you choose the direction you want to go. They will challenge you and shed new light on things. But that’s all.

Be careful when you go into the critiquing process. There are people who will try to tell you what to do or mold you in their own image. Don’t let that happen. Always try to keep your own voice. It’s what makes your writing unique. There’s a saying in critique groups, “Take what you can use and leave the rest.” Take that advice to heart. Only take the suggestions you can use and leave the rest. When I critique someone’s work I try to give examples with my suggestions and point out things I like.

One of the main reasons I joined up with ACFW was because I wanted to find critiquers. I’m currently involved in three critique groups. One is a large group where I meet new people and submit a few things. Then I have a small group and a proposal group. All of these groups serve their purpose. But I recommend a critique partner above all else. It’s so hard to keep track of too many people’s stories. If you can find someone who gets your story and your writing, consider asking them to be your critique partner. What’s the worst they can say? And don’t give up till you find someone you click with and who’s willing to give the same amount of time as you. You may have to keep trying people out until you find someone who works. Right now I’m trying out a new critique partner. Wish me luck! 🙂

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4 Comments

  1. “Be careful when you go into the critiquing process. There are people who will try to tell you what to do or mold you in their own image. Don’t let that happen. Always try to keep your own voice”

    That is something I have to remember while I am out looking for my first writer’s group. Thank you for sharing this great advice.

    And good luck with the new crit partner.

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    • LIZ: Good luck with finding the right group. My group had a 30-day-cancellation in case you don’t like it. But I love it! However, it’s not all been perfect. But it has been a great learning process. It took me three months to find a great crit partner, and I feel so lucky to have found one so quickly. It may take awhile to find what works for you. But don’t give up.

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  2. I haven’t gotten to this stage yet, but I can tell you that the critique that I received in my short story class was lukewarm at best. Does that mean your story doesn’t need any work, or does that mean your partner stinks at critiquing?

    I wish you luck with your crit partner. I love editing (other people’s work, not my own – it’s so hard to see your own flaws in your writing) so I can’t wait to find a partner for myself!

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    • MANDI: I hope it’s because your work is perfect. But that’s usually not the case for me. Usually a lukewarm crit is either because the expectations weren’t clear up front, or the critter stinks. (no pun intended 🙂 ) If it’s expectations, it would help to clear up exactly what you want from a critique. Some people are just too nice to tell you exactly what they think is wrong. Can you believe that? Sometimes you have to tell them to be brutal, then be prepared for the consequences. That’s why I have a few comments in my post for overly brutal crits.

      I love editing too, but I’m the same as you. It’s so hard for me to see my own flaws. But I can certainly pick out other people’s flaws!

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