Working with a writing critique partner can be crucial to your success as an author. The feedback you give and receive as a critique partner will improve your writing (and your critique partner’s), so it's key to find one who is a suitable fit. You may end up going through a few critique partners before you find one you gel with, and that’s okay.
Let's dig into some tips that will help you on your search for finding the perfect critique partner.
What Is a Writing Critique Partner?
A writing critique partner is someone who reads your book with the sole goal of providing feedback that will help you improve your manuscript. One of the first things you should think about when looking for a critique partner is whether you are ready to receive feedback. It’s difficult to hear negative things about your writing, but it’s necessary if you want to improve.
If you're looking for someone who will tell you you did a great job and they love your story, you may not be ready for the feedback a good critique partner will provide.
The other side of that coin is: Are you ready to provide honest feedback to another writer?
When you enter a critique partnership, you are also agreeing to provide feedback to your critique partner. So, consider how you will handle giving negative feedback.
How Do You Find Your Writing Critique Partner?
Some critique partnerships happen naturally as you meet other authors. But if you're wanting to hurry things along, social media can be an excellent place to find a critique partner. There are many writers hanging out on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. On the platforms that use hashtags, try searching for #amwriting and #amediting.
There are a ton of Facebook groups of all kinds for writers. Type "critique groups" into the Facebook search bar, and you’ll find several groups to try.
Check your local library or writers’ organization for meet-ups. These types of meetings often provide critiques in bite-sized pieces, and this is a great way to find out if you enjoy the process. The more you attend these types of meetings, the more you will get to know your fellow writers and potentially find someone you’d like to write and critique with.
If your local library doesn't have a writers’ group, try posting an ad for a critique partner on their bulletin board, or consider starting your own writers’ group. This can be a great opportunity to meet writers and develop the group in the way you’d like.
What Should You Value in Your Writing Critique Partner?
Before agreeing to work with a critique partner, you’ll want to discuss your expectations and those of your partner. Here are some things to think about:
- Do you want your critique partner to write in the same genre as you do?
- What type of feedback are each of you looking for?
- How much writing experience do you want your partner to have?
- Do you want suggestions on how to fix problems or do you just want to know where potential problems may exist?
The last question can be confusing, but readers don't always know what's wrong with the manuscript. They may have struggled through a section or were pulled out of your story but don't know why.
Ideally, you’ll want a critique partner that has complementary strengths to yours. For example, if you write powerful stories but your character development needs work, you’ll want to consider finding a critique partner who can provide good feedback about character development to help you strengthen your weakness.
Tips for Providing Feedback
Consider collaborating on a checklist of the feedback you and your partner will provide to each other. Some areas to consider include:
Always start with something positive. The Kind Writer’s Guide to Offering Respectful Feedback provides some excellent tips such as maintaining objectivity, presenting feedback positively, and admitting your own mistakes.
The best feedback is that something’s wrong, not how to fix it – unless your critique partner asks for this type of feedback. We are all unique individuals and therefore, will correct our manuscripts in unique ways. You know what works best for your story.
Consider Beta Readers
If after reading this article, you're not sure that a critique partner is the right solution for you, you might work with beta readers instead.
Beta readers can be writers, but they are more commonly readers willing to share their opinion of your work. As with critique partners, you’ll want to know what type of feedback you’re looking for so you can get the most out of working with beta readers.
Working with a critique partner can be a great way to improve your writing. Not only will you benefit from receiving feedback, but you’ll also benefit from reading someone else’s work and providing feedback to them.
By taking some time to decide what type of feedback you’re looking for and what qualities you hope to find in a critique partner, you’ll save yourself the wasted time of working with someone who isn’t a suitable fit. Keep things honest and constructive.