We all need Critique Partners, even multi-published authors. A fellow writer friend that looks over our work with a critical eye, picks up all those little typo’s, notices when something’s a little off with the plot, suggests that chapter ending is in the wrong spot. And we look over their work too. CPs can be a godsend. But they can be the exact opposite too. I’ve spoken to many writer friends that have had terrible CP experiences, some so bad they actually quit writing because they no longer had confidence in their ability to craft words.
This is makes me so sad.
Nobody should squash someone’s dreams.
So, today I want to talk about the give and take in relationships; how to have a good CP, you need to be a good CP.
We’re not all at all the same same writing level, nor the same stage in our careers. And it’s good to be partnered with people both below and above your writing abilities. Those above can help you hone your craft, and while helping those below, you will also learn things about your own writing.
Hopefully this will seem like common sense to most of you, but I want to put it out there in the hope, that it might help people who struggle to hold onto CPs and don’t understand why. A few things I think are crucial to being a good CP;
- Honesty: Don’t overlook issues in the manuscript because you don’t want to hurt feelings. It’s important to be honest in a critique, if you’re not there;s no point even reading. This brings me to the next point.
- Tact: When you’re being honest, don’t be mean and blunt. It is possible to tell someone that their grammar’s not spot on or the their main character isn’t likeable without crushing their soul.
- Kindness: For every few negative comments, find something positive to say. There’s nothing more encouraging than reading returned pages and seeing little positive comments. Usually I talk back to the manuscript because I get so invested in the story, the characters make me excited or happy or sad. Just ask my CPs how gushy or teary I get!
- Suggest don’t tell: Don’t tell people how to write. You’re not an expert, there are no rules. (unless of course you’re an editor, then you are actually an expert, and there probably are rules). 😉 This is a creative art, try not to stifle someone’s voice. Start your sentences with things like I think, I suggest, perhaps here you can.
- Objectivity: Try to be objective, look outside your personal tastes. If you have trouble doing this, and a CPs story isn’t in the usual genre you write and read. You may not be the best person to critique it.
- Reciprocate: Generally, CP relationships work two ways. I think it also helps to build a mutual trust.
- Friendship: I’ve worked to build friendship with all of my CPs, and with some of them the friendship even came first. But I think a lot can be said of being friends as well as CPs. It’s easier to be honest and trust each other with our precious hard work.
I have a handful of CPs, some of the Aussie Owned team amongst them. When you find a good CP, someone who you click with and really ‘get’ each others work. Grab a hold of them. They’re worth their weight in red ink.