Whaza Critique Partner?

A critique partner (CP) is sort of like being alpha/beta reader to each other. Good ones are hard to find. I’ve only got one after trying a dozen or more times. There are a number of authors I regularly beta read for, and expect to do so as long as they continue writing, but their feedback on my work hasn’t been useful. Alternatively, some people will provide a little feedback, then nothing. While it isn’t required to be friends with a CP, I believe it’s beneficial, as you become each other’s cheerleader. But the most important thing is you need to be honest and open and be willing to say the things you feel are important. Both need to be someone who will look at ideas, snippets, revisions, etc. with a critical eye of an author, but who also understands what each are trying to do with their writing. Mine is really good at providing ideas for making my stories stronger, without necessarily trying to put her stamp on it. Another woman I read for, who writes lovely stories I hope get published sometime (and has some great steamy romance as well), is terrible at only being able to see her concept of what I’m talking about. Because we’ve become friendly, I have to actively remind myself not to ask for her opinions. They’re a waste of both our time.

CPs are two-way streets, which is why finding the right one is rare. You have to be interested enough in each other’s writing styles and goals that you’re willing and eager to read and reread, have enough ego that you take the feedback that inspires you and leave the rest, yet also be able to accept your advice being ignored. Some people just don’t have the personality to be CPs. Others are too sensitive to criticism to remain friendly after they’ve heard something they didn’t like. And some just don’t have the energy to stick with it. If it becomes a chore to communicate, clearly there’s no ‘partnership’ in it.

It’s great if you find one, but don’t feel it’s a requirement. You should still work with beta readers even if you have a great CP, as you need independent eyes to go over it (just like you need independent eyes of editors). Just remember, you don’t have to take your CP’s advice.

Author: mitusents

Biochemist, MBA, then programmer. Now novelist, screenplay writer and hopefully director. What a strange trip it's been.