Successful Critique Partner Relationships

CPWith Valentine’s Day and Galentine’s Day celebrating multitudes of relationships this month, I thought this would be a good time to take a look at an important relationship in any writer’s life: critique partnerships.

What makes a good critique partner relationship depends a lot on the writers involved. Some writers like feedback throughout their early drafts, while others would rather not share until they have a complete draft. Some are looking for more big picture feedback, while others want their CPs to point out every misplaced comma. Knowing and communicating what you’re looking for before you start reading will help ensure a healthy CP relationship. You may find your critique style isn’t compatible with your potential-CP’s, which can save both of you valuable time and headaches (and maybe even your friendship). Not every writer friend will be a good fit for you as a CP, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still cheer each other on and support each other in other ways.

Before you decide to form a critique partnership, consider:

  1. Do you read the genre(s) your potential-CP writes? Do they read the genre(s) you write?
  2. Do you each give the type of feedback the other is looking for?
  3. Are any of their strengths your weaknesses, and vice versa? (I tend to do well with character development, but struggle with plot, so I work really well with my plot guru CPs.)
  4. Do you each work at a pace that is good for the other? If I’m looking for a quick read, I won’t go to the CP I know has several other manuscripts on her to-read list, plus a busy life outside of writing.
  5. Where are they in their writing career? My CPs and I are all at different stages in our careers. Having CPs who are more experienced than you will push you as a writer, and working with writers of all experience levels will teach you to discover and articulate why something in a manuscript may not be working for you.

Lastly, an important thing to keep in mind when forming critique partnerships is reciprocation. If someone puts in the time and thought to read your work, you should be willing and able to do the same for them. If they don’t have anything for you to read now, let them know you’ll be happy to read their work when it’s ready.

So, open communication, compatibility, and reciprocation. That kind of sounds like the elements of all good relationships.

What questions do you ask yourself when considering a new CP?

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