Some writers like critique partners, some don't. I'm one of the former, and I'm fortunate that I've found two excellent critique partners. I've never met them - I'm in the UK and they're in the USA, but during the last eighteen months, we have worked together and become friends.
Writing can be a lonely job, and it’s good to have a friend who is prepared to read your chapter and give you his/her honest opinion. The word honest is important. I don’t want just positive feedback with a few ‘nice’ comments, although a comment of ‘Great, this really worked well’ does wonders for your confidence. But at the same time, I want a genuine opinion and, if necessary, hard-hitting comments.
A good CP can help you to improve your story and your writing. They can highlight your word or phrase repetition, overuse of passive verbs and adverbs, and telling rather than showing (I have been guilty of all of these but didn’t actually realise it until my CPs told me!). They can look at the big picture and tell you what is working and what isn’t, where the plot holes or anomalies are and whether the pace of the story is too slow or too fast. They can help you to brainstorm when your story runs into a sticky patch.
Sometimes (often?) we can get too close to our own story and characters. A critique partner comes to it with fresh eyes and can point out the things that you may have overlooked.
Critiquing someone else’s work has the double bonus of helping yourself as well as (hopefully) helping them. I have learnt a lot about what works and what doesn’t from critiquing.
So this is a tribute to my critique partners – with a million thanks to you both for your help, support, encouragement and friendship!