I’ve been racking my brain recently for blogpost ideas. Last night, I finally thought of one that I love and I’m so excited to share it with you guys! It will be ongoing posts, typically titled, “What I wish I knew…” with the topic. I thought of this title because I remembered being new in the writing community (especially the Twitter community!). When I was writing with no intention of sharing, I had never heard the words beta reader and critique partner, or knew that first drafts were bound to suck. Basically, there was a lot that I wish I knew when I started building a platform, but I was too nervous to ask. I didn’t want to seem like I didn’t know some of these commonly known ideas or concepts.
So today’s topic is about… Critique Partners!
For starters, what is a critique partner?
In general, a critique partner is a writer that you swap WIPs with. They can offer reactions based on things previously agreed upon, catch plot holes in your WIP, look for grammar issues, characterization, setting… anything. Really, it’s what you and your CP discuss beforehand. What they do for you, you do for them.
CPs are typically people you can speak to about scenes in your manuscript, talk through plot ideas/plot holes, and things like that. I tell my CP just about every thought that runs through my head about my WIP (whoops).
How do I find a critique partner?
This question is really hard to answer. I would start by establishing yourself in the community. I recommend Twitter because the writing community is so great there! There are writing chats on almost everyday of the week, monthly WIP hashtag games, and you get to see others going through what you’re going through. Writing can get lonely and it’s awesome to see that you’re not alone. I found my CP on Twitter.
I recommend knowing the person a little before choosing them as a CP. Swap one chapter and see how you do. Ask them about their WIP, their genre, just talk to them… Being a critique partner requires knowing how your critique partner likes feedback. Do they want straight-forward critiques? Do they like reactions mixed in? Talk to them.
There are also times when bloggers set up “CP Match,” where writers can pitch their WIP with their email and people who are interested contact you.
Allison, I am way too scared to share my work with someone. How dare you suggest something like that? It’s not happening.
I feel this. I was adamant that I wouldn’t have a critique partner, no way, no how, not in a million years. When I first heard the term, the only way to stop my anxiety about it was to remind myself that there was no way in hell I was doing it.
Then I did it. It is by no means easy. I still get nervous sending work to my CP because I’m sending my words out there specifically to be critiqued. They might have a few nice words, but really, they’re here to rip your story to pieces. It’s how it is.
CPs are necessary for your WIP. They’re necessary for your growth as a writer. We miss things. Sometimes huge things and CPs are there to help us out! Don’t you want your work to be the best it can be?
But what if they steal my work?
This is highly unlikely. Work sent to CPs are often first or second drafts, and honestly… sometimes those aren’t that pretty. However, I worried about the same thing! There are a couple of ways to reassure yourself about this.
- In the US, your work is automatically copyrighted as soon as you write it.
- You’re exchanging WIPs with your CP. That means you’re receiving their work as well. It is highly unlikely that someone who is working hard towards publication would a) send out their work to someone else with the intent of stealing someone else’s work, b) ruin their potential publication prospects by stealing your work.
If those things don’t reassure you, then: get to know your CP. Be their writing buddy first, ask them how their day was, like quotes they tweet from their MS. You’ll likely feel way more comfortable if you feel you know more about your CP.
How many critique partners should I have?
I have one, but I’ve heard that people generally have 2-3. I think it’s really up to personal preference.
Can my friend or family member be a CP?
I mean, they can. I’m not here to tell you what to do, but I wouldn’t recommend it. Friends and family are generally less honest when it comes to these things, or they see your work as the best thing that was ever written, ever just because it was written by you.
My CP became my friend during the process, but those are two different things. If your friend/family member cannot give you honest critiques, they can’t be your CP.
Well, folks, that’s all I’ve got for you today. If you have any questions about CPs, feel free to leave them in the comments. 🙂
Do you have a critique partner? How did you find them?