Monday, February 06, 2012

Critique Partners

I've been spending a lot of time evaluating my writing situation these days, especially where critiques and feedback are concerned.  I love my critique group, but to get an entire book critiqued, it would take  over a year!  We only do about ten pages per meeting, and we meet every other week.  Assuming everyone can make it every week, that's 260 pages that will get looked over in a year.  That's too long to wait to complete a book.

So I came to the conclusion today that I need a critique partner.  Someone with whom I can swap pages on a regular basis.  I can read their stuff and they can read mine, and we can call each other up and get "emergency" crits done in a pinch.  If we're on a deadline, for example, and we only have a week or two to go over thirty or more pages, we can send or pages to each other and blast through them without having to wait for the next crit session.

I think one of the biggest differences between a crit group and a crit partner (at least as far what I'm looking for) is that, with critique GROUP, the members can be at pretty much any level in their career.  Maybe they're trying their hand at writing for the first time, and they really need guidance from those of us who have been trying it for over a decade, or they've been working at it for a while, and they realize that they need to be reading other peoples' work to learn how to improve their own writing.  Obviously, with a crit group, you get many eyes on your work, and that's always good.

But with a crit PARTNER, I think both of them should be in a similar place in their process.  This way they're on the same page with their needs and goals.  And the level of development at that point will help to better their chances at moving forward, rather than hinder either one of them.  I definitely don't want to drag another writer down!

Anyway, that's what I've been thinking about lately, I'm just not sure how to go about finding a critique partner.  I don't trust the forums anymore, so I'm thinking I'll have to get out and meet real people at one of the RMFW events.  There are other options, of course, but most of the authors I know are in different places with different needs.  I don't know how helpful I would be to most of them, and (not to be selfish but) I'm not sure if they would be as beneficial as I need them to be.  I think I know one author who fits the bill, but that's something I'd have to talk with him about, if he's even interested.


  1. Very good points. It's why I stopped going to the local critique groups. It took entirely too long to get through a chapter. And then another month to get through the next.

    It's hard to find a great partner. I've searched blogs, forums, groups. You meet great people at conferences, but at varying levels. It's not easy to find someone. Just keep looking. You're on the right path.

  2. I'm in a crit group, but it's an email crit group and not face to face, so we send more pages to each other and then comment directly on the work. It goes a bit faster, but still not fast enough. I always fly blind through the 2nd half of a book and rely on my agent to spot things that need to be fixed. It's not her job, but she's darn good at it. :)

    I've been in my small group for over 15 years, so we know each other well. We're at comparable levels and each of us writers different genres so we all bring something different to the table. That's one advantage of a group over a crit partner.

    I think having a crit partner is an excellent idea. Add a beta reader to that and you have a really good solution for getting helpful feedback once the book is done.

  3. I agree. I think a critique partner needs to be at your level or preferably a little above you. It's so important to get fresh eyes on your work. I also think beta readers are worth their weight in gold. I know taking advice from fellow writers is really important, but you can also learn a ton from your target audience :)

  4. I participate in both a group online, and have several partners, too. They both have their benefits, and I couldn't do without either. We added a few new members to our group recently, and I was really glad we did a trial-swap of our work--it really showed us who was going to work best for our group's needs. Might be something helpful :) Good luck!!

  5. the first critique group i attended, i didn't even know i was looking for a crit partner - but i walked away with miranda hardy and it's been the best thing to happen to me! i swear we share a brain - it's almost scary sometimes. i hope you find that "special someone" - they are out there!

    ps - never went back to the crit group.

  6. I've been to a critique group once as an observer, but I did get to critique the pages people brought in. It was interesting and a learning experience, but I have to agree that nothing beats a one on one relationship with someone at the same level, at the same stage as you in the writing process.

    I met my critique partner online at We've never met in person (which may change next month!), and I consider her to be one of my very best friends.

    It would be nice, however, to have a local person I can meet with face to face for coffee and "shop talk", but with a busy life and a husband I absolutely LOVE to spend time with, and a bad case of writer's hermatitis (I want to stay home!) having a long distance critique partner works best for me.

    Claire L. Fishback