Networking is necessary in every field, especially in writing. One of the networking tools in our writer’s toolbox is the critique partner. There are so many benefits of working with a critique partner that we will explore here in a bit but first, let me introduce you to my awesome critique partner Amanda Sawyer.
Amanda’s has a fantastic blog called Amanda’s Nose in a Book. I have been helping her with her book, The Girl in the Glass Coffin and she has been helping me with The Woman in Red.
My favorite genre to write: I love to write any sub-genre of fantasy. TGGC blends genres so it’s a mix of paranormal, fantasy, light sci-fi, and historical fiction.
My favorite genre to read: Fantasy is the top choice usually, although I’m trying to broaden my horizons a bit.
My goal for 2015: Finish TGGC and have it ready for the next step in the publishing process!
Amanda and I explored some of the benefits of working with a critique partner and some our tips for making it a successful experience.
1. What would you say to someone afraid to share their work?
Diana: Working with someone one on one can be a nurturing constructive experience. If you plan on getting your work published one day you have to get used to the editing and critiquing process because the book will go through a lot of it. Having a critique partner (or two) can help get you and your writing ready for that. Plus, four eyes are always better than two eyes. They may see something you don’t.
Amanda: I totally understand the fears associated with sharing your work with another person. You want them to like your work. And you might be afraid of criticism or being told that your writing sucks. Those were my biggest fears. Before last summer no one had seen my WIP other than myself. And I waited with baited breath after I sent Diana Chapter 1. I was so anxious. But when I saw her response, I was thrilled. Her feedback was so helpful.
Also, if you want to be a published writer, you should get used to people reading your work. Sharing it with CPs can only help to make it better!
Diana: Its funny that you say that because i read your first chapter first and thought “oh god, after she reads mine she’s going to think this is the ammeture hour!”
2. Where can you find a critique partner? Where did you find yours?
Diana: Networking with other writers. I came across Amanda somewhat by chance really. She put the call out on her blog for a new critique partner and i was like hey, this sounds like it could be good. I was working on a different project at the time and had been reading her blog so i already liked her writing style. It’s been what a year now? And we email almost daily 😉
Amanda: Both critique partners I currently work with I met through my blog. Diana had commented on a couple of my posts and when I mentioned that I was looking for a second CP she offered. I’ve had a lot of fun working with her and we’ve helped each other out a lot.
Some great places to find CPs are local writing groups (check to see if your area has one), if you have a blog you can follow and talk to other writers, and bookstores. I know some people who have had success with Critique Circle, however I’m not one to put a chapter out there and let anyone comment/critique it (not just yet anyway).
Diana: I am not one of those people who had success with a critique circle. I joined one early on in writing Woman in Red and the experience felt very negative. Everyone posted their work, and you had to give at least 4 critiques before you could post anything more. So, i posted my first chapter and over the course of like 2 weeks i did 2 critiques (and did not post another chapter). I got called out for not critiquing enough and taking advantage of the group.
Long story short, besides the fact that i like the one on one critique work best in a relationship like this you have to remember that your critique partner does not have a life souly devoted to you. They are doing you a favor by reading and critiquing your pieces. They have families and jobs and their own writing to do. So always always always keep that in mind.
3. What do you do to keep yourself from writing to them?
Amanda: Each writer has his or her own style, and even that varies depending on the genre or subject matter of the book. Sometimes it’s difficult, as you might have a different style than your CP. Sometimes the feedback that you get isn’t the kind that you’re looking for, etc.
I’ve found that working closely with a couple of critique partners keeps me from changing my writer’s voice to appease the person reading it. They know my style and I know theirs. We may comment on sentence structure or when something trips us up as we read, but any suggestions made are with the others writing style in mind. I never expect my critique partner to make all of the changes I suggest (or any of them really) because they know what’s best for their own novel. I take suggestions from them a lot of the time, but I do so in the way that feels best for my novel.
Diana: i would add that 9 times out of 10 they are things that when you go back and read them you are like oh i get how they are seeing that, i may want to change it.
Amanda: Definitely. A lot of the changes you have suggested I made are totally for the better. Especially when things don’t fit or when something needs more clarification. Having another writer point them out not only makes your novel better, but makes you a better writer because you know what to look for when you read your own work before hitting the send button 🙂
Diana: or when you think you have written this beautiful piece of prose to get a critique back with the comment “huh?” After the section. It keeps you humble 😉
Amanda: Haha or maybe the “huh?” just means I’m dense. 🙂
Diana: it just means we hit each other pre-coffee
4. What has been your most positive experience working with a cp?
Diana: Well besides building a new friendship. It’s made me a stronger writer i think. I have learned from Amanda’s pointers and think a lot more now about how a third party will interpret my writing vs how i interpret my own work.
Amanda: I agree, a great friendship has come out of us working together. One of the most positive things that has happened as a result of working with Diana and another CP is that I’m not so afraid to share my work anymore. And I actually finished my novel as a result of her help, pointers, and support! It was an awesome feeling.