Thursday, June 23, 2016

Finding a Great Critique Buddy

Hopefully, as I write this post, there are as many aspiring Superromance writers as there are readers who visit our blog because I thought I'd share an invaluable writing tip...find a critique buddy!

Finding a person or persons to whom you entrust your work, before acceptance, is a tough call for any aspiring writer to envision, let alone action. As writers, we spent months (sometimes years!), with a body of work that is often spattered with our blood, sweat and tears. To then share that work or, more accurately, invite it to be criticized is a tall order.

An order that it took me writing three full-length novels before I decided I wanted to find someone to read my work before I submitted it to agents or publishers. Lord, how I wish I’d come to understand how vital having someone read my work BEFORE I submitted was so important to the book’s success.

There’s no doubt about it, finding a good critique partner/s is hard. Once you make the decision to look for one, the path is fraught with danger. You’re taking a huge risk that the person might be too harsh, too thin-skinned to accept your returning critique or worse, they proceed to change every word you’ve written until their suggestions completely obliterate your individual voice.

However, if you find a partner/s who are kind, considerate, informed and vying for your success as much as their own, you will want to keep that person with you for the rest of your career and wonder how you ever managed without them.

For me, I had several misses before I hit on the three critique partners I have now­­––three fabulous romance writing, romance loving ladies who have worked with me throughout the writing of my last five novels.

I would truly be lost without them!

We work by exchanging a chapter at a time for critique during the first draft stage of our novels. The thought of sharing that messy, discovery stage of your work might fill you with horror BUT I can genuinely say (for me, at least), having someone comment and critique your brand new words can lead to wholly stronger, more vibrant and exciting following drafts. To have character inconsistencies, plot holes and repeated words highlighted at the stage when you still have so much time to fix, change and delete is fantastically freeing for your creativity.

So, how do you find these wonderful partners/friends who will hold your hand and cheer for you at the finishing line? Firstly, join as many online and real-life writers groups as possible. Talk to these writers, get to know them, come to like and understand them as individuals. Who would you avoid? Who makes you laugh? Whose writing aspirations match your own? Who shares a love of the same genre and authors? All these questions will give you a good chance of narrowing down that person/s who will improve your work.

Be brave and make the decision to start on the path to finding your critique buddy today – more than one is even better because you’ll have differing opinions on the same piece of work. If the two or three partners say different things, then it is up to you to decide what is right for YOU. However, if two or three partners comment on the same area of your work…you would be foolish not to revisit it and make some changes. Clearly something there isn’t quite right.

Happy hunting! I promise you’ll come to fully understand and love the benefits of no longer working solo. Good luck!

Rachel x

Author of the Templeton Cove Stories
Saved by the Firefighter - coming Nov 2016
Her Hometown Redemption - Sept 2015
Christmas At The Cove - Nov 2014
What Belongs To Her - Mar 2014
A Man Like Him - Aug 2013
Finding Justice - Feb 2013


Mary Preston said...

I can see the value for writers in having a critique partner.

Harlie Williams said...

Good advice. I've never had a good critique partner. But I haven't given up. It takes time and it's like dating. You have to go out with the bad to finally find the good.


Nan Dixon said...

Great post. I took a lot of classes and went to conferences, but I learned to write from my critique group!

Nan Dixon said...

Great post. I took a lot of classes and went to conferences, but I learned to write from my critique group!

dstoutholcomb said...

I need one desperately


Harlie Williams said...

One other note...I tried crit groups, too. It didn't work out for me at all. Too cliquish and I'm over high school.

Still looking for one. For right now, I just have one person that will at least read for me and tell me what my glaring errors are in the story.

Maybe this is why I get so many rejections. Hmmm...


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