Getting the most out of working with a Critique Partner

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Writing is an arduous journey, and it isn’t over when your story is complete, unless you are writing in a diary without the intent of anyone ever seeing it. In which case, this article isn’t for you. But if you are like me, and the hundreds of thousands of other authors out there, writing with the intent of publishing and selling, then I highly recommend finding at least one Critique Partner.

I am lucky, I have several Critique Partners by way of being part of the Muse Crew (a fabulous group by the way). But for those of you who aren’t so fortunate, here are some questions answered to get the most out of your critiquing experience:

  • So what is a Critique Partner (CP)? Basically, it is someone that you give your material to, who reads through it and provides their thoughts, suggestions and emotional responses to your story. This process can either be done in person, or via the internet by way of group chats, email or blogs.
  • What should I look for in a Critique Partner? First and foremost, they should be a writer. They don’t necessarily have to be published, but they do need to understand the process of taking a story from thoughts to paper. They must be someone you trust and respect and that can be honest with you. Let’s face it, they need to have no qualms about taking that novel you have slaved over for 6 months, and marking it with so much red ink that it looks like a crime scene. Just remember, every red mark makes you a better writer.
  • How does the process work? This can go a variety of ways, bottom line is you should do what works for you and your partner. The Muse Crew meets every 2 weeks, and we submit whatever we are working on to the group. It is typically limited to a chapter, but could also be a short story, blurb, or just about anything you need help on. The group then provides written comments in the margin, such as when a question arose in their mind, something that didn’t make sense to them in the plot, or the best…something they really connected to and liked. Those comments come back to you, which can then be included in the re-write/editing process.
  • What is the difference between a CP and a Beta Reader? Simply put, a Critique Partner is another writer, a Beta Reader is… well, a reader. Critique Partners generally get your material in it’s roughest form, giving you comments that allow you to mold the story. Beta Readers generally get your material when it is complete and ready for market. By the time a Beta Reader gets their hands on your story, the plot holes, content issues and punctuation should be squeaky clean.

Writing isn’t merely cutting open a vein and allowing yourself to bleed out on paper, although some authors would argue that is the easy part. It is about massaging a story until it is the best version of itself, and that my friends can be done beautifully with a Critique Partner (or group) that you respect and trust.

Originally posted by D.A. Henneman, contributing writer on: www.muse-crew.com

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