Working with Critique Partners

Writing can be lonely. We daydream. We scribble. We hunt and peck, and then we pound it out. Then we wonder if what we’ve written is effective, interesting, or worthwhile.

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor. Ecclesiastes 4:9

That’s why it’s essential to find critique partners and trade honest feedback. I have several writers and readers I trust to express their true thoughts about my work.

We all want everyone to love our writing and find absolutely nothing wrong with it. But to get to that point, we need loving, corrective criticism.

Wounds from a friend can be trusted. Proverbs 27:6a

Be selective in choosing your critics. Do they have your best interests at heart? Are they committed to timely responses? Is the relationship mutually beneficial?

As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17

Look for these qualities:

  • Non-competitive spirit. You want someone willing to pray for the mind of Christ before they critique your work.
  • Confidentiality. Non-negotiable.
  • Individuality. Understand that each person in a critique group may be unique. Some may be called to exhort, some to encourage, some to simply document the journey. Honor one another’s diversity.
  • No poaching. Agree in advance that if anyone gets a similar idea or thinks of a story enhancement after a critique partner shares his or her thoughts, they will assume God has given it to them to sharpen their partner’swork.
  • Responsiveness. Be timely.
  • Generosity. Share market openings, contest news, etc. Be generous in receiving—and in giving—critiques.
  • Attitude. Maintain a nonjudgmental, problem-solving attitude. Be honest and don’t hold back the truth. Weep with those who weep. Rejoice with those who rejoice. This will help battle jealousy.

Once you’ve selected a few critique partners, make a covenant with one another, for a limited time (perhaps a year or two). You and your critique partners can help one another be the best craftsmen you can be.

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11

After earning her first rejection at 13, bestselling author Sandra Byrd has published more than three dozen books. Her adult fiction debut, Let Them Eat Cake, was a Christy Award finalist. Library Journal called her historical novel, To Die For: A Novel of Anne Boleyn, one of the best books of 2011. Sandra’s YA fiction, Asking for Trouble, was a finalist for the ECPA Medallion of Excellence award. Visit her online.

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