5 Things to Look For in a Critique Partner

Writing can be a very solitary profession. And most of us like it that way – huddled at our vintage desks or curled up on our couches, muttering to ourselves while our coffee grows cold. But once that draft is finished…then what? Well, I suggest you don’t run a quick spell check, type up a query and then send that puppy to agents the next day. What I do suggest is you find yourself some critique partners, other writers with whom you can trade manuscripts and feedback. I can say, without a doubt, that my critique partners were a key ingredient to my success at landing an agent and a book deal. Without them, my chocolate cookies would be hard. My cake wouldn’t rise. My soufflé would be flat. My…well, you get the idea, right? But not all critique partners are created equal. Here are the top five things you should look for in a critique partner. GIVEAWAY: Megan is excited to give away TWO free ebooks of her novel to random commenters. Comment within 2 weeks; winners can live anywhere. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. (UPDATE: rampmg and meetmilena won.)
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Writing can be a very solitary profession. And most of us like it that way – huddled at our vintage desks or curled up on our couches, muttering to ourselves while our coffee grows cold.

But once that draft is finished…then what? Well, I suggest you don’t run a quick spell check, type up a query and then send that puppy to agents the next day. What I do suggest is you find yourself some critique partners, other writers with whom you can trade manuscripts and feedback. I can say, without a doubt, that my critique partners were a key ingredient to my success at landing an agent and a book deal. Without them, my chocolate cookies would be hard. My cake wouldn’t rise. My soufflé would be flat. My…well, you get the idea, right?

But not all critique partners are created equal. Here are the top five things you should look for in a critique partner.

GIVEAWAY: Megan is excited to give away TWO free ebooks of her novel to random commenters. Comment within 2 weeks; winners can live anywhere. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. (UPDATE: rampmg and meetmilena won.)

make-it-count-novel-cover-erickson
megan-erickson-author-writer

Column by Megan Erickson, who's got a couple of tattoos and has a thing
for gladiators. After working as a journalist for years, she decided she liked
creating her own endings better and switched back to fiction. She lives in
Pennsylvania with her husband, two kids and two cats. Her novel is
MAKE IT COUNT (William Morrow Impulse, June 3, 2014, Bowler University
Series #1), a new adult romance about college student Kat Caruso
crushing on her boyfriend's gorgeous best friend, Alec...who just so happens
to be her brand new college math tutor. (Who knew nerd was so hot?)
Find the book on Goodreads, Amazon and Amazon UK. Find author
Megan on Twitter and Facebook.

What to Look for in a Critique Partner:

1. They offer a good mix of praise and critique. You don’t want someone who only showers you with praise, because then how will you get better? But in the same vein, they also need to point out what isn’t working – is the dialogue stilted? Is your pacing off?

2. They actually critique. If they find your romance unbelievable, they need to tell you why. If a situation seems forced, do they give a suggestion on how to change it?

(Agents share their query letter pet peeves.)

3. Their writing inspires you. Part of a critique partner agreement (usually) is that you trade works. My critique partners have inspired me to ramp up my tension and work on my characters’ internal monologue. Even now, when I edit, sometimes I can predict what they think won’t work, and I’m able to fix it quickly. That’s so important, to read others’ works that inspire you.

4. They like your voice. This is a tough one, and it’s why a good critique partner is hard to find. They don’t have to write the same genre or category. But they have to love your voice and your themes so that when they do offer critiques, they don’t try to change what makes you the writer you are.

5. They get the journey. Publishing, no matter what stage of the journey you are on, is a roller coaster. There are ups and downs and twists and turns and you usually don’t have a safety bar. So having critique partners that understand the highs and lows and can coast you through those is priceless.

Ultimately, while writing is solitary, the journey of publishing isn’t…and shouldn’t be. Critique partners will thicken your skin before your manuscript gets in the hands of agents, editors, and readers. And they will be there with you along the way to pick you up when you need it and pat you on the back when you deserve it. I’m hoping for more of the latter than the former.

(Will a literary agent search for you online after you query them?)

GIVEAWAY: Megan is excited to give away TWO free ebooks of her novel to random commenters. Comment within 2 weeks; winners can live anywhere. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. (UPDATE: rampmg and meetmilena won.)

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