Thursday, March 11, 2010

Critique Partners

With finishing my first draft of Blood Diamond and working on revisions, my mind tends to jump ahead to the next the step. Once I finish revisions, I like to send my manuscript out to my critique partners. Yes, I have more than one.

Critique partners are worth their weight in gold. Personally, I would never submit without running it by at least one other person. I want to make the best first impression I can with my work and I know I can't do that all by myself.

A good critique partner not only catches what you need to fix, but they also point out what you're doing right. That can be just as important as what should be changed. You need a thick skin in this business, but everyone likes encouragement.

What if you don't agree with them? Weigh their opinion. If it resonates with you and you think the story will be stronger, change it. If not, don't. Ultimately, it's your story. You have to do what's right for it. If several people mention the same thing, however, it's usually a good bet that changing it would be beneficial.

I know some authors have one partner that they rely on but I've found that different people seem to catch different things. Multiple partners (critique partners, that is) works out great for me because I'm a bit sparse on description, usually. As a reader, I don't like a lot of extraneous description and tend to skim over it if it doesn't seem relevant. Because I do this, I tend to go in the opposite direction and not put enough in. Of course, since I know the story and the characters so well in my head, I don't always catch the areas that need more description.

So, I like to have four strong critique partners to look over my stuff. Funny enough, I decided to write about critique partners after I wrote yesterday's post. Then I hooked up with someone new today. Critique karma.

So, I'm working diligently on my revisions like a good girl and I hope to have them finished by the end of the week, Monday at the latest. I'm pretty proud that I'm not struggling to finish writing two days before the deadline. I'm a horrible procrastinator and if it weren't for buddying up with Rachel on this submission, I probably would be sweating bullets, but that's a post for another day.

How many critique partners do you have? What do you look for in a critique partner?


Elise Logan said...

I have one main crit partner. She is worth more than any other tool in my editing kit. She sees nearly everything I write, and does that first painful read through. After I incorporate her comments and fix the stuff she found wrong, I send it out to other beta readers. I have a group of people who I think are good for that, and I'm always on the lookout for more.

I want someone who is appropriate to what I write, not afraid to tell me what's wrong, has an eye for continuity and repetition (big issues for me - I don't usually have many continuity problems, but when I do, I want them found), and who pays attention to the nuances of the relationship. I don't generally have grammatical errors, so I don't need line edits per se.

I will say that a bad crit partner can really throw off a story. They can make you second guess where you ought not and think things are fine when they aren't. And a bad crit partner doesn't necessarily mean a bad writer or editor - it may just mean they think too much like you and have the same blind spots.

But a good crit partner is a thing of beauty.

GPS said...

I have the same problem, Riley. I don't put in what I don't like to read - too much description. I've been told I write too fast, I need to slow it down and add more description. That was from a critique partner. I love our group because we get (and give) 3 critiques. It always amazes me how each one picks out different things - and things that went right over my head. Reminds me, I gotta go get my pages ready.

Danica Avet said...

I have one critique partner and one helpful friend who doesn't mind telling me when something sucks. My CP is amazing. I really lucked out when we found each other. She's great (the best) with grammar, which is my weakest point, but she's also helped me figure out how to make my story more solid plot-wise. I'm much more confident in myself as a writer with her around.

Dani Petrone said...

Being a team writer, I have a critique partner sitting right beside me. But we still need the input from others. We are so close to our work and know our story so well that it's easy to forget that the reader only knows what we tell them. I am blessed to have the best critique group of like minded writers, that without I know I wouldn't be published without. The Butterscotch Martini Girls. They give me support and guidance to help make my story the best it can be without changing my voice.

Nice blog, Riley.
Dani Petrone

Caroline Clemmons said...

Good blog, Riley. I've been extremely lucky with critique partners. Of course, I won't go into the one who tried to plagiarize, but I soon stopped meeting with her. Now I have a good group of email and face-to-face critiquers who have been real assets in my writing. Writing is a lonely profession, and the support of faithful critiquers is invaluable.

Felicia Holt said...

I don't have one but I want one! I can definitely see why it'd be good. But I think the match is important. I had some before that didn't work out and it definitely made me a little shy of CPs.

shawn said...

I belong to a critique group. There are nine of us and we have become friends as well as critique buddies. Each of us has a specialty. I'm good at spotting plot holes, another with grammer, another with pacing,etc. I am also guilty of not writing what I don't like to read. My critique group tells me often to add more descriptions.

Valerie Mann said...

When I seriously began to write romance, I joined a writer's group online and one aspiring writer in particular took me under her wing. To this day, I don't know why other than she told me that I "listened" when she told me right from wrong. Sadly, she doesn't write any longer but I do have one awesome crit partner now who tells it like it is. She's a teacher and a grammar queen and joyfully hacks at my stuff even as she tells me she loves it. I think she means it...

Jana Richards said...

Hi Riley,
I'm lucky enough to have several critique partners that I can depend on. Like you, I wouldn't want to sent anything out without them having a look at it.

I think a critique partner has to "get" you and your writing. They have to be someone you trust and like others have said, they can't be afraid to tell you the truth. That said, you have to be confident they know what they're talking about.


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