Monday, February 13, 2012

On critique partners

A few weeks ago I reached a point with my current work in progress--WARDENS--where I couldn't pull myself out of the story enough to see how to improve it. So, like many writers, I sent it off to my critique partner. Although she's been busy, she gave me two small critiques on Thursday based on her initial read of the first three chapters: my character believes in dragons too easily, and my setting isn't entirely believable (there's a secret society hidden in an isolated town).

While the first can be an easy fix, changing the setting would mean some heavy revisions throughout. But because I trust my partner, and because I already knew that something in my manuscript felt hollow, I thought through those revisions. I didn't dig in my feet and defend my work.

And you know what happened? I spent the weekend in front of a computer screen.

I wrote out some initial thoughts on how to revise. Then I rewrote the first chapter. My partner never told me to rewrite the first chapter, but a good critique partner doesn't have to. They point out a few flaws, and it's like some sort of veil gets lifted from your eyes. It gives you a completely new perspective to see other holes or loose ends that need tying.

So if you don't have a critique partner, find one. My partner is actually a friend/family member (which in most cases, I would say don't do), but she's also a fellow writer. Once you find a critique partner, trust them. Don't fight. It will be better for your story. And that's what we're after anyway, isn't it? Telling stories that ring true.

For other writers: how did you find your critique partners? What are your thoughts? Do you have any stories where your partner was right on, or maybe some where he/she was way off?

4 comments:

  1. So all this time I thought I didn't really have a critique partner and then I realized that all this time my sister has been that very person. I was resistant to the idea because I thought there was no way she'd be able to be objective (given the close familial ties), but her advice and support has been invaluable. I think when the time comes for a harsher critique of my work I'll have to seek out somebody with more degrees of separation, but for the time being I wouldn't trade her help for the world (she's also a writer). We spent hours on the phone this past week discussing our respective WiPs and have dubbed these little phone sessions our 'writing conferences'. :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My crit partner and I will write together well chatting via google. It's so great! She's my cousin and like a sister. It's wonderful when you have that sort of relationship with someone where you have the mutual trust but you also know they won't sugar coat things.

      Delete
  2. I found my critique partner on the website Ladies Who Critique. She is awesome. An awesome critique partner(s) become more than someone who reads your work and helps you find the flaws, they wear many hats. They are your cheerleader, therapist and friend. My writing has only gotten stronger and I owe a lot of that to my CP. It also helps that she thinks like me and every time she suggests a change a light bulb goes on and it becomes clear. An awesome CP is invaluable.

    New follower *waves*

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I totally agree about those lightbulbs. It almost doesn't even feel like criticism (the constructive kind). My crit partner is just communicating the feelings I haven't been able to articulate. Welcome to my blog!

      Delete