Apr 3, 2012

A to Z - Critique Partners

Writing used to be a really solitary thing - people sitting in far off lands, just them and their typewriter versus the world type thing.  But if you are any kind of artist at all, you know that before you can improve there has to be critiques. 

I have the good fortune to be involved with a great group of critique partners who meet every two weeks to visit about pages, plots, characters and other life things.  And it is the best thing that ever happened to me.

First, I get to have feedback on what I'm working on and I get to continually work with someone who refers to my characters the same way I do - like they are real people.  They see things that are missing in my text, holes, and offer incredible suggestions on how to improve and add depth.

Second, we meet every two weeks.  That means that I have to get at least 10-15 pages done and as good as I can every two weeks to be prepared.  Deadlines are a beautiful thing, and I can't just let things slide and slip away.  There are obligations to be met.

Third, I get to read their stories.  There is something about reading the works of other writers, in whatever form, that is inspiring and mentally stimulating.  I'm not writing in the same genre as my CP's right now, but I still learn so much about what I could do with my characters and get to be amazed by what they are writing.

Sometimes people don't always get to have someone live by them who is willing to meet regularly.  Enter the wonderful world wide web.  There are many sites where people are trying to meet to form online critique partners and have great success even though they don't meet physically.  In fact, if you are looking for a partner right now, I'd love for you to meet in comments section below - tell what you are writing, a couple of your favorite books and maybe we have have some meetings of the minds :)

What do you love about your critique partners?  How did you meet yours?  What are the best things for you as a writer and a reader?

31 comments :

Jenn said...

I know I would love to be a part of such a group if I were actively writing a novel!! I love the idea!

Cheers, Jenn
http://www.wine-n-chat.com

Danielle B. said...

Great post! partners in "writing" crime is what every writer needs.

Susan Roebuck said...

I really need critique partners. I didn't have any for my first novel (I don't live in an English-speaking country) and I drifted about not knowing whether I was on the right track or not. I paid a literary consultancy to check out the manuscript (luckily they liked it!). My second novel had several readers who all gave fabulous feedback - and I hope I do the same for them.

Kyra Lennon said...

I have known one of my CPs for a very long time, and the other I met since I started blogging. I love them both because they see different things, things I would have otherwise missed. They are invaluable!

farawayeyes said...

Don't have one, do need to work on this. I can see the benefits.

welcome to my world of poetry said...

Great Post but I don't need a critque partner for my poetry.
I am not big time but enjoy what I do.

Yvonne.

Rosalyn said...

I agree--critique partners (mine in particular!) are amazing. :)

I also happen to have a talented sister who writes--and I can pester her when I need to. Since she's my sister, she doesn't exactly pull punches when I've written something silly.

Annalisa Crawford said...

I don't have any. I think part of my hesitancy is the reciprocal nature - I was always so bad at literature appreciation at school, I'm worried I'd give bad advice, or no advice at all!

Karen Walker said...

Being in a writing group did not work for me, but I understand how well it works for many many writers. Good luck to you with your writing
Karen

M.J. Fifield said...

I've never had much luck with critique partners but I love them when I have them.

I'm so glad you have a group that's working so well for you.

M.J. Fifield
My Pet Blog

Rena said...

My critique group is a private blog called Read My Manuscript or I'll Cut You. There's like 8 of us but only 3-4 regularly post. I find it very helpful.

Joshua said...

I don't have any CPs. Then again, I would have to finish a draft before I could get them. I did have someone read a short I wrote for a competition, but that was only 1K.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

My three critique partners are awesome. They were blogger buddies who responded to my cry for help last year. They each see something different, which really helps.

Jericha Senyak said...

My critique partners are my family & my boyfriend before anyone else -- because they know me better than anyone, and if THEY don't think it works, I KNOW it doesn't work. They're not afraid to be straight with me, and they know my influences (Henry Miller, GK Chesterton, Yuri Olesha, James Thurber, Bernard Malamud) because they're the ones who gave me most of the important books in my life in the first place.

What's most important for me in any critique, though, is that the person reading my work is willing to honestly answer some very specific questions. Usually, "What works the best for you? What do you find unclear or messy? What do you find moving? What just kinda sits on the page?" Anything too general OR too specific tends not to help me much, and I learned from my father the importance of really trying to be helpful to the writer instead of just sounding off about what you think. I ask others to do the same.

With the novel I'm working on now (a mystical romp about a man who believes fervently in God from a distance, and finds his life turned upside down when a group of mysterious strangers show up and start meddling in his affairs - are they angels? are they devils? are they just a bunch of crazy people? and what does it mean if he can't tell the difference?) more than anything I want readers who are going to be able to tell me where the language itself sings for them and where it doesn't, and where the line of mysteriousness falls for them: too oblique? too obvious? I think that kind of specificity asks a lot of critique partners, sometimes too much. But what I appreciate about your post is the reminder that we need them! Constructive criticism, even if it's sometimes not what we want to hear, is one of the single best ways to improve our writing!

Cathy said...

This is off topic, but Tasha, are you by chance related to Jen Seegmiller who lives in Moscow, Idaho? She's in my children's writer critique group, and I think she's from Utah.

The Golden Eagle said...

I don't have critique partners. A lot of writers seem to rave about them, though, and they sound very helpful.

MAJK said...

Excellent post on CP's and as a writer a CP is a very essential part of our life.

*~MAJK~*
Safireblade.com
A to Z CHallenge

Monica said...

Not being a writer, I don't have need for a CP, I have however found you post to be very interesting.
Monica, Older Mommy Still Yummy

Julie said...

I don't have a group like this, but it sounds like a great experience. Might be something I need to look into.

Andrew Leon said...

Actually, there is some no research that is showing that this kind of interaction may not be good. As in, it makes your work worse, not better. The best writing comes from you by yourself working and working on it. But I'm not through with the book, yet, so I can't really be more specific than that.

Jaycee DeLorenzo said...

I love that my CP catches things that didn't even, in a million years, occur to me. It helps me clear up confusion!

My C

Kelley said...

Isn't it so wonderful when others talk about your characters as if they're real? Because, to you, they are. And they mean enough to them for them to treat them the same way.

Dawn M. Hamsher said...

My writing group meets once a week. It was the best thing that ever happened to me too! We encourage each other. That's the best part!

The Write Soil
1st Writes

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I would never have gotten published without my first critique partner though we've both moved onto different groups now. I owe her big time.

Melissa Ann Goodwin said...

My husband is the best ever CP - he never fails to catch that thing I tried to gloss over because I wasn't quite sure about it. I am so grateful for this.

Clarissa Draper said...

Critique partners are the best! They have provided me with so much help. I couldn't be a good writer without them.

Rob and Lisa said...

I have never had a critique partner, but I can definitely see how it would be helpful. I will have to look into writing groups in my area. Thanks for a great post and good luck with the challenge.

Lisa
http://livethemoment09.blogspot.com

Angela Cothran said...

I'm so jealous! I would love to meet with my critique partners on a regular basis!

elizabeth seckman said...

There are no critique groups around me, but I have been fortunate to find really good people online.

Medeia Sharif said...

I go to an in-person group and I met a few CP's online.

They are invaluable. My writing continually improves and evolves with their feedback.

Alana said...

So great to have this group to keepyou both motivated and connected! I have some online crit partners that keep me committed, and some real life writers in groups that keep me inspired. It is all so helpful.

It sounds like you found the best of both worlds in an in person biweekly crit group. That is fabulous!

Alana @ writercize.blogspot.com
Found you through A to Z?