As previously mentioned, we’ve all heard the horror stories that can happen when you get mixed up with the wrong critique partner. Everything from hurt feelings to making changes on a story you probably shouldn’t have made. The question is how do you find the right one?
There are multiple websites and groups via Yahoo, Facebook, and a simple search can set you on the right track.
What are you looking for? Depends on what you want, a one-on-one partner or a group. For a one-on-one partner, you’re looking for someone with similar goals, career, and writing, to your own. Reason being, you’ll both be working towards a similar path and help support one another to get there. It’s as simple as asking the potential partner what they want out of the relationship. If they just want someone to bounce ideas off of, but you’re looking for a partner to help you get ready for publication, then this may not be your person.
Additionally, you want a person whose strengths will build on your weaknesses. An example: One of my writing weaknesses is writing dialogue. I found a partner who excels at it, through this, I learn from her.
For a group of partners, you want to seek a balanced environment. Look for a group with published and unpublished authors. This means you’re getting a wealth of knowledge from those who’ve been at this a little longer than others. The success of a group is based on the diversity of the authors. Similar rules to the ones above apply. Within a group, you should find authors with similar goals to your own and those with strengths that will help you shore up your own weaknesses.
You found your potential partner/group how do you get started?
For individuals, do a trial run. Test out a couple chapters, set expectations, and discuss them at length. Schedule chats to review feedback and ask questions. Critique partners are supposed to be your best friend, your confidant, and the person who helps you work out all those pesky problems. Mine talks me back from ledges, a lot.
For groups, apply (if it’s necessary), follow the rules, and as Lori mentioned in her first post, be respectful. Crits are about the positive and negative. It’s constructive criticism, not tearing someone apart either.
What if I disagree with the feedback? It happens. The best part about crits is that partners (good ones) will tell you to use what you think applies and ditch the rest. It’s universally known that not all feedback may apply. Additionally, don’t dismiss anyone’s feedback. I personally, follow the rule of 2. If 2 critique partners call out the same thing then it’s something that needs to be fixed, hands down. Otherwise, a good tip is to follow your gut, but it’s also highly recommended you let those crit comments marinate for a few days before taking action.
Here’s to the search for the partner and the group. I recommend both and, in most cases, more than one. To find those gems is like having a personal treasure chest.
Missed part 1 – Check out Lori Sizemore’s original post from earlier this month.