Friday, January 26, 2007

Theme: Critique - The Who

Okay, this is a biggie. Your critique partners - who they are as writers - can make or break you. I firmly believe that. Why, you ask? I'm so glad you did. Let me tell you...

Your critique partners are like mini-agents. They should be able to get behind what you're writing (I'm not saying they need to love it, worship it or want to marry it) in such a way that they can be enthusiastic about it AND should the occasion ever arise that they are seated next to an editor at a conference who just so happens to be looking for a vampire cowboy story, be able to talk about YOUR vampire cowboy story with reasonable intelligence.

Your CPs should also be either a.) more advanced writers than you or b.) be stronger in certain areas than you. Having CP's who are at your same level is okay too, so long as your level isn't beginner. A bunch of beginners critiquing each other's work is an effort in futility. You need someone to show which direction to go in.

My CP's are all about my level and many have strengths in areas I don't. I like to think I bring an equivalent portion to their tables as well.

Be careful who you partner with, but don't be afraid to dissolve the relationship if it's not working. Your CP's are integral to your success. And this is a business. Making friends is fine, just keep your eye on the prize and focus on what you need to get there.

Of course, great critique partners are worth their weight in published books.


  1. Anonymous10:16 AM

    Just wanted to say I've enjoyed your pieces on critique groups--especially this one. Thanks. :)

  2. Anonymous11:29 AM

    Great post, Kristen.

  3. I totally agree. Great post there, Kristen. I wish I had read something like that when I first started out. It would have saved me a lot of grief.

  4. Anonymous11:15 PM

    Although I agree with you, I must say that it's hard for beginners to find CPs that are at a higher level. Those who are more advance, like you suggested, don't exactly like to have beginners as CPs since they feel they are a set back. After all, it's a two-way relationship, so advanced writers feel they don't get much out of being paired off with a beginner.

    Besides, just advanced writers don't necessarily make the best critiques since not everyone has what I call "a good critical eye." :) I had 3 advanced writers read my story for critique, and their observations didn't nail it as much as the ones I got from someone who wasn't at their level.