Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Why you might need more than one crit partner, or why online critique sites rock. But no porn today.

In my last post I told you all why it's essential that I have a critique partner, and by extension why you should have one too. Also, there was crying and mention of porn. Anyhoo, I couldn't leave out all the other people who are reasons that I get to have a go at writing books instead of, you know, working and stuff.

I'm not an in-person type of person. Online works best for me. The place that I use for this is Scribophile, and not just because there are periodic discussions of how the hell you say its name. I sent my first book through the mill there and was lucky enough to pick up some loyal and wonderful readers who read the whole thing. What's more, they didn't laugh. They even came back and read my second novel. So it's down to them, in part, that I sent that novel out and gots me an agent.

Some of them have blogs: J. D. FieldAmaleen IsonKristine Goodfellow. Some of them (I'm looking at you, Kinkaid!) neglect their blogs (they die if you don't look after them you know. Just sayin'). These nice people, plus others - like Mr Mark Stone - discussed with me the relative evils of the word 'was' and the possibility that the world would implode if we used too many adverbs. They read the unfocused waffle that was my first draft, and they helped me make it better. 

And here's the important bit - they had different ideas about what I needed to do to fix issues with my writing.

This is why it's important to surround yourself with people whose opinions you can trust. When you have a group of people willing and able to give intelligent comments on your work, it's also important to know when to excercise your own judgement entirely, and when to listen to other people. Having lots of people read your work is great, but you also have to know when something is a true issue with your story and when something is an opinion - maybe a valid opinion, and something that could work, but an opinion nonetheless. 

Look for issues that are mentioned by more than one person. Listen to your own gut when it comes to your story, but don't ignore the more objective opinions of others if they're identifying the same problem.

So what do you think? Do you have crit partners? What's your optimum number?


  1. The internet is a wonderful thing. I have 1 main beta reader and then a few other readers. My main one, I met on a writing website and she's more than a CP - she is a friend. I love her; she is one of the strongest women I know (both parents died when she was young from cancer). My other betas include another girl I met online, 2 of my classmates and my old professor who teaches Writing for YA. :) Love my CPs...they are the bomb dot com :-D

  2. It takes a while to build the confidence (and experience) to know what advice works for you and your writing. I'm lucky enough to have a handful of beta readers who all focus on different aspects of writing. On-line critique groups rock, especially Scribophile. And your comments, Ruth, keep me honest. :-) Most of the time.

  3. I was extremely lucky to find a good group of beta readers, but I only have one writer-friend who is a consistent CP. She's *awesome*, but I've been meaning to look for a few other writerly-minded CP's so I can compare the feedback. Thanks for reminding me!

  4. Now that I'm settling in to a genre, I'm so lucky my CPs are in it. It seems like I picked them before I even knew what I needed myself. I'm one of those people who writes a ten page feedback doc, so I was relieved to find my CPs enjoyed that treatment! I'm still looking for new connections, too, in MG specifically.

  5. Interesting comments guys. In fact I have an idea for my next post!

  6. So true, this. I would not be where I am either if I hadn't put my work out there to online critters, some who read sporadically and others who read consistently. AND the being online thing is a plus. No one has to see my no-makeup, wild hair, holey pajamas drafting self. Cause that would just be bad for everyone.

  7. A few years ago I joined Litopia and I haven't looked back since! I've met some wonderful people and the feedback on my writing has helped me inprove so much. I can't recommend the site strongly enough, but of course, different sites work best for different people. :-)

    1. I've never looked at that site. But I do think it's good idea to check out a few to find one that suits you.

  8. Yup! I have many CPs/betas. Eight read my last MS. And i totally agree that everyone is going to have a different opinion. Some you agree with right away. Others not so much. But if the same suggestions appear often, then there's something you should really consider changing. Whether you really want to or not.

  9. Your posts are always so fun and informative! I have given you the Versatile Blogger Award; thanks for all you do!


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