Monday, 4 April 2011

Critique Partners

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!


  1. hi Paula,
    I agree, finding CPs helps not just wit the writing but with the whole process (or should that be struggle?) of writing.
    Moody Writing

  2. Well done those wonderful critique partners! I agree, having someone give an honest opinion and see work with a fresh pair of eyes is so important.

    You are one of my A-Z highlights for today! :)

  3. Being a CP is like being a friend or a lover. It takes commitment and openness, and the rewards are fantastic.

  4. That's an interesting insight into something I've never really considered before.
    I'm certainly learning more than the alphabet from your posts, Paula! :)

  5. Thanks, all. I well remember the days of writing in isolation, so I really appreciate my CPs!

  6. Happy Mother's Day!

    I've been writing for eight years and it's been tough finding a GOOD CP. I'm thankful everyday that I have one who's honest and just as commited to her writing as I am.

    Similar to Ana's comment, I believe CP's, editors, and agents, all fall into the same category as a "marriage". The results are only as good as what you put into it.

  7. It's always important to get honest feedback.

  8. Hi Toni and Ruth
    Honesty is essential otherwise there's no point in having your work critiqued or in critiquing someone else's. I try to be positive about the good things, and offer constructive criticism when I feel something's not right.

  9. Critiquing is probably one of the hardest things to do, yet it it's extremely helpful. Have fun with your writing!

  10. I'm not at a place where I need a crit partner yet, but you're right. They're invaluable!

    Great shout out to them!!!

  11. I really need people to point out my overused words and passive verbs. Love those critique groups.

  12. Visiting from the A to Z Challenge. Hi!

    Good post. I'm too close to my characters (admitting is the first step, right? Right?!). At this point, a critique partner may be good for me. Starting another book would be even better. :)

    Thanks for sharing!

    Marie at the Cheetah

  13. Mist - I enjoy critiquing with my CPs, I have a good relationship with both of them, and I try to help them as much as they help me.

    Words Crafter - whatever stage you're at, a CP can help/advise/support you.

    Susan - we all need that objective eye to look at our work and see the things we've missed.

    Marie - we all get too close to our characters and however much we try to step back, that other more objective eye of a CP is so valuable!

  14. What a great tribute to your Critique Partners. CPs are invaluable. I love critiquing because I love helping others and I love get critiques even more. Awesome post!

  15. Wow...I'd love to be a critique partner. I love editing documents. Maybe someday I'll be asked. :-) Great post.