Why You Need a Critique Partner

Writing can be lonely. And it’s easy to grow so close to your work that you’re no longer objective. Having a critique partner can provide:

• encouragement
• a new perspective
• growth in the craft
• a kick in the pants

Tamera Alexander and I have been critique partners for almost ten years–since we met at a writers conference and Tammy volunteered to critique my work-in-progress.

While not all critique partners become friends, a friendship naturally developed from our working relationship. As we’ve critiqued almost two dozen manuscripts between us, we’ve seen the truth of Proverbs 27:17-“As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.”

Where and how to find one

• Join a critique group with an eye to finding one critique partner.
• Connect with someone you meet at a conference or a local writers group.
• Ask a well-read (nonwriting) friend or relative to read your manuscript and give feedback. Not all critique partners are writers.
• If feasible, pay a professional editor for a critique.
• Sign up for a paid critique through a writers conference.
• Submit a sample for your free critique as a CWG member.
• Take advantage of online opportunities to post your work for critique.
• Learn to become your own critique partner. Read books on self-editing, such as:
Revision & Self-Editing by James Scott Bell (Writer’s Digest Books)
Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne & Dave King (HarperCollins)

Other reasons to have one

• Someone not so close to your story might come up with ideas or plot directions you’d never dream of.
• Two people working together bring two sets of strengths to the table-and can offset each other’s weaknesses.
• It makes a solitary occupation much more fun! It provides the human touch a career in writing often lacks.
• When one of you is down, the other can build her up.
• It’s much easier to see mistakes or room for growth in someone else’s writing. We can then apply what we learn from critiquing another’s manuscript to our own work.
• Brainstorming! With today’s technology, critique partners don’t have to be neighbors or even live in the same state. With Skype or even by just instant messaging you can brainstorm any time, day or night. And it’s free!

The goal of any writing partnership is to improve your skills and hone your craft. Never stop learning and growing.

Deborah Raney’s first novel, A Vow to Cherish, inspired the World Wide Pictures film of the same title. After All, the final book in her Hanover Falls series, released in May 2012 from Howard/Simon & Schuster, and she is currently working on a standalone novel. Deb will teach “Writing Women’s Fiction” and “The Perfect Word” at Writing for the Soul in 2013.

Image credit: michaeljung / 123RF Stock Photo

Comments

  1. Rachel Laird says

    I like your suggestion to have a non-writing friend as a critique partner. I have the perfect person in mind. Thanks for the advice.

  2. says

    My critique partner has been so helpful and encouraging. Not only does it help to have a second set of eyes to catch grammar and typo errors, I can also ask her questions about whether something is clearly written or needs another direction or development. It’s true that I feel a little less alone as a writer! She’d agree.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *