Writing is a solitary art, but there are times when we need to reach out to others. I’ve spoken before about the importance of seeking feedback. Finding a critique partner can have a huge, positive impact on your life.
What is a critique partner?
A critique partner (CP) is essentially somebody you share work with, in exchange for feedback. They’re sometimes considered to be beta readers, which is usually true, however the partnership aspect means that you both support each other.
How to find a critique partner:
It may seem like a difficult task. I have a couple of incredible CPs, but I didn’t set out to find them. They are writers I interacted with on this blog, their blogs, and social media. The agreement to exchange work happened, and continued. Blogging and social media are an amazing way to connect with writers, and find those who share a mutual interest or are in the same position as you. Alternatively, you can seek out local writing groups, to meet people face to face.
Benefits of a critique partner:
Sharing your work can be daunting for a number of reasons. What if the writing is terrible? What if they steal my idea, and write it better than I can? That’s just two of the troubling thoughts that creep in at the prospect of giving your book-baby to a ‘stranger.’ Having a critique partner is a great way to form mutual trust. You share your work with each other, both offering up that same level of respect.
Friends and family don’t often offer the best feedback. Their bias will help them see only the positive aspect of your work, and if they do find something wrong they may feel awkward to point it out. Your CP will offer you honest feedback, telling you what works and what doesn’t. How do you know they’re being honest? Because they want the same back from you, they need to know their flaws and their strengths just as much as you do.
Develop you editing skills
Looking through your CPs work with a critical eye encourages the skills required to edit your own work. Spotting typos, grammatical errors, plot holes and weak words will develop your ‘editing-eye’, so you’ll hopefully find it easier to edit your own work going forward.
Improving your work
Of course, the main reason anyone looks for feedback. To improve. It can be hard to tell if you’re story is working, because you’re too close to it. You spend so much time with it you can’t tell if it’s boring, or if the plot twists come as a surprise. A CP will be able to tell you, and you can ask them any questions you need answered in order to improve your work.
More than just stories
It’s not just your stories that you might want feedback on. It’s also query letters, pitches and a synopsis. These can be really helpful items to get feedback on, especially from another person who knows and understands your story.
Making a friend
Awwww. Soppy, but true! In your critique partners you’ll find friends, friends who share the same passion for words as you, and understand the difficulties of the publishing journey. The friendships I’ve made through writing are ones I truly treasure.
Do you have a critique partner? How have they helped you? Drop a comment below to share your experiences.