Critique partners, should I have one?
When I first started writing seriously I was a bit overwhelmed with all the acronyms and other terms people were using in the writing circles I was joining. I found myself constantly running to Google to see what it all meant. One of those acronyms was CP. It stands for Critique Partner and I am a firm believer in finding yourself at least one really good CP before you publish your work. Is it necessary? No. Does every serious writer use a CP (or more than one)? No. But I have several reasons for recommending you have at least one. Now before I get into why this term is so important, let me just go over what a CP is really quick for anyone who might not know.
A CP is usually another writer (perhaps an editor) who will go through you work and offer you critiques on your writing. It’s anything from correct grammar and spelling to pointing out plot holes and unrealistic character motivations.
So why are they so important that you should take time searching for a good CP?
First, they view your work with a fresh set of eyes. I don’t have to tell you how tired you can get of reading the same thing over and over again. Even if I’m the one who wrote it. After a while, I get sick of reading something, no matter how brilliant I might think it was originally. Having someone who can look at it without all the baggage you bring to your own editing can be enlightening.
They also aren’t omnipotent like you are with your own story. If you’re anything like me, you sometimes take people from point A to point Z without telling the necessary steps for how you got there. Some important facts might get neglected. A CP can look at your manuscript and tell you where the gaps are.
They can also tell you what doesn’t work. This is hard for us as the author. We think everything we’ve written works in our manuscript. (Especially at two in the morning when we’re all brilliant authors. haha) But a CP can view it with objective eyes and tell us if something just isn’t working.
So now that I’ve told you a bit about why CPs are so important, I thought it might be helpful to include a list of some things you should look for when finding your own CP.
- someone who reads, a lot
- someone who can be honest with you
- someone who is familiar with the genre you are writing in
- someone with great grammar skills
Also I thought it would be helpful to note where you can find a CP (or more than one) of your very own. There are many places you can look. Social media is a good place to start, you can look for other writers and get to know them. Once you have cultivated a relationship with them, you can bring up the suggestion of critique partners and see if they are interested. Another good place you can find CPs is Absolute Write Water Cooler Forums. They have a forum just for help finding a CP, along with a forum for just about anything you can think of related to writing. If you’re looking for a local critique group, head on over to MeetUp and find a writing group near you, there are usually at least one group nearby. I started a Meet Up chapter of a Nationwide writer’s group called 9 Bridges. They didn’t have one in my area so I contacted them and they helped me set one up. It has been such a great experience!
I also wanted to give a shout out to my online CP group. We “meet” via Google Docs and Google Hangouts. It has been so helpful and motivating. The lovely Shelly Muncaster helped organize the group and I met her through Instagram. You should check out her awesome blog Here.
There are so many opportunities to find CP partners that you need to be careful not to over extend yourself. I belong to two critique groups and don’t plan on joining more, as they are time consuming. But I do have one final CP whom I refer to as my writing parabatai because she is the one I always send my writing to first. I know she’ll be honest with me but she’s also one of my biggest cheerleaders and that’s something I need in order to feel confident enough to send my work out to others. So find what works best for you and go with it! The best critique method is the one that works for you.
That brings us to the end of this post. In my post next week I will discuss how a CP differs from a beta reader as well as why I think both are beneficial. If you’re looking for other resources for authors you can go back to my Resources Page and look through the article titles there for help in different areas.
If you’d like some books on the topic of critique partners and groups, Amazon has a number of them. Here are a few:
Until we meet again.