Friday, May 31, 2013

A good critique partner is hard to find...

My parents are opposites. I mean, really opposite. My dad was an electrical engineer, my mom was a philosophy major. So yeah, not too much in common there. But clearly, it's worked out okay for them as they'll be celebrating their 46th wedding anniversary this year.

The best part about having a spouse that's your opposite is that they often complement you in a variety of ways (and hopefully compliment you too!). Where you are weak, they are hopefully strong, and vice versa.

Critique partners are kind of like your spouse. In some ways, you want them to be your opposites. You need them to balance you out. If you're fantastic at writing dialogue, but weak at description, you're going to want a partner who can be really good at figuring out where to put description.

So what I'm saying is that you shouldn't pick a critique partner who is exactly like you. Yeah, it's helpful if they like to read the kind of stuff you like to write, and there are no doubt going to be some similarities no matter what, but make sure you find the partner who works with you, not for you.

Some helpful hints:
1. Don't pick someone who only compliments your work. While nice for the ego (hi, mom!), it doesn't help improve your writing. You need someone who points out your weak points and helps you get better.
2. Don't pick someone who is overly critical. Yeah, you need criticism, but CONSTRUCTIVE criticism, not the kind of insults that leave you depressed and never wanting to write again.
3. Realize that you may not find all the qualities in a single critique partner. You may have one person who reads for dialogue, and one for description, and one for... I don't know, commas (I LOVE commas). Or something. This works out better than creating your own Frankenstein monster of a critique partner (and it's easier on the electrical bill).
4. Realize that if a critique partner isn't helping you, it's time to move on. I still use my original critique partner, who is also a great friend, because she's good at what she does. But no matter how good a friend she is, if she'd not helping me when she reads my books, I'd kick her to the curb. I'm just a bitch like that, I suppose.

and most importantly:
5. YOU MUST HAVE A CRITIQUE PARTNER!! I don't care how brilliant you are (I'm quite the genius myself), your writing will be made better by having someone else read it. Trust me.


  1. I'm glad I haven't been kicked to the curb yet. ;) Good tips!

    1. You're the best critique partner a girl could ask for... except for the part where you live a million miles away :)


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