The Almighty Critique Partners
(And how to find them.)
I’ve been asked this a few times recently, so for all you looking for CPs or just plain wondering what a CP is, there’s a thorough explanation.
What’s a Critique Partner anyway?
A critique partner is another writer around your skill level with whom you exchange manuscripts with. Generally, critique partners offer both content feedback and line-by-line editing.
How do you find a Critique Partner?
You might come across CPs at random, through close writer friends, long time role play partners, or even family members, but there will also be seasons of your writing life where you need to seek out CPs on your own.
There are numerous forums and match up systems designed to help you find your perfect critique partner. Googling ‘critique partner match up’ will give you an almost endless list of these places. (Using the built in google search tools to specify you’re looking for things from within the last year might help narrow it to what’s actually running at the moment.)
The major issue I’ve had when using these types of forums are (a) you’re trying to match yourself with a complete stranger, and (b) it takes a lot more social effort to stick yourself out there on a website you’re unfamiliar with.
You can adjust this forum searching method by advertising in your favorite writer community, such as here on tumblr. Things to include in your advertisement:
- What you’re looking to get out of a CP.
- What you’ll be offering your CP in return.
- A blurb of your current wip.
- An excerpt of your work (if you have none easily accessible on your blog.)
- How they should contact you in order to request a trial chapter to critique.
- Optional but recommended: A strict deadline.
When people contact you, send them the chapter, making it clear that this is just a trial run to see whether you work as CPs. (You should also offer to critique a chapter of theirs in return, should they have one ready.)
What criteria do you look for in a Critique Partner?
A writer around your skill level. This allows you to offer each other the same detail and thoroughness in your critiques. It works out nicely because your understanding of writing will always be higher then your ability to write, so you will both be able to pick out more flaws in the other person’s manuscript then you can in your own.
Someone easy to communicate with and understand. This style of critiquing requires a lot of discussion, usually discussion about the things you did wrong. You need someone who explains their constructive criticism in a way you personally understand and who you can talk though complex plans with. The worst thing you can have is a CP who’s stressful or energy consuming to talk to.
A fan of your writing. This isn’t the sort of fan who praises everything you do, but rather someone who enjoys both your writing style and your intention for your story. You absolutely need a CP who inherently understands your vision for your writing and will strive to help you reach that vision.
You should never accept a critique partner you have doubts about. If you don’t feel as though you’re receiving a large amount of extremely helpful and honest feedback that will help you bring your manuscript to the next level without changing the things you love about it, then keep looking.
CPs are not Beta Readers! If you’re interesting in knowing more about Beta Readers, please visit this post here. If you’d like a quick summary of the ways CPs and Betas differ, I will be linking to it via my FAQ once it’s been posted.
I’m more than happy to boost your CP advertisement on my side account, @brynprocrastinates.*
* I’ll boost most posts containing all the information specified in my list of things to include, though I reserve the right to ignore any post based on my own personal reasons or general over-whelmed-ness. ^^