Critique Partners – Creating a Successful Relationship

January 30, 2008 at 1:02 pm | Posted in Bria, career, editing, friendship, relationships, writing | 5 Comments
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Finding a Critique Partner is hard enough, but making it work (just like any relationship) IS work. The Pre-CP labor is where your partnership will be made or destroyed — you just won’t know which immediately.

I’m lucky. I haven’t been drifting along too by myselfly (yes, I know it isn’t a word, but that’s what it feels like.) Besides my fellow Heartlettes here at the blog, I’m also blessed by several women who support, guide and direct me over at the RD board. I have wonderful people who are willing to read my stuff and give me honest feedback – painfully honest feed back – just like I’m looking for.  They catch things and ask questions and point out flaws and praise and give the love.

But until I met Ann, I didn’t have anyone to do that deep-intense daily walking thing with. For the last month we’ve done a chapter each per week. We email, edit, scan, send back and discuss on Thursday night.

It’s working out really well so far and I think I know why: Planning.

Planning came in two parts. The first part I’ll call The Covenant and the second could be considered The Job Description.

Before we got started we took some time to read sites about being in a Critique Group. Together we discussed what we were looking for, what we needed, how we best worked, what would be most hurtful, rules for discussing issues, how we’d consider bringing new people into our sessions, and emergency exit strategies.

Beyond these things, we discussed expectations. What did we expect to get out of and put into the relationship? What edits, thoughts, suggestions did we want? To be honest, we’re greedy girls, we wanted everything. And to make sure it all gets covered, we have an extensive list of summary questions to answer each week to ensure that all topics get broached sufficiently.

I’d like to share with you some of the sites we used to draw up both the Covenant and JD:

Ok, here are some sites I found around critiquing —- we can pick and choose what we like:http://www.pammc.com/crit.htmhttp://www.sfwa.org/writing/http://www.crayne.com/howcrit.html

http://www.eslteachersboard.com/cgi-bin/writing/index.pl?noframes;read=295

http://marilynnbyerly.com/marilynnbyerly/page9l.html

This isn’t the complete list, but it shows a well rounded search from in-depth to chatty “did you think about this” ideas.

I strongly believe your writing life should be run like a career and so, every CP relationship should start out this way, just like a job.

Just like every other aspect of your writing, do the work. Short cuts chop off the borders of your vision where some of the most beautiful details grasp the edges.

If you’re interested in what we came up with specifically or would like to tell us what’s worked (or hasn’t) with your CPing relationships, let us know!

Then, Go Write,

-bria

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5 Comments »

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  1. When I started the Women’s Fiction Writers Exchange, an online critique group, all I knew was that I needed a couple of critique partners. I was new to writing and didn’t have a clue what that truly meant. I was blessed with an amazing group of women writers with a variety of critiquing skills. What one of us misses, the other catches. In the first year, we developed a working relationship, got to know one another, became familiar with writing styles. Now, as we approach the anniversary of our second year together–although with members moving in and out of the group–we have a solid working group. We have to rules: mutual respect for one another, and reciprocity for critiques received.

    In addition to the knowledge of basic writing skills, I believe a good critique partner or group is a writers most valuable resource.

    Linda 🙂

  2. Good point, Linda!

    Ann and I have that built in respect, but that isn’t always the case. Building a covenant was part of our insurance in case of growth.

    Glad to see you – You always bring something thoughtful!

  3. […] like creating the Critique Partnership, move your writing partnership to the next level – a prethought-out plan that’s mutually […]

  4. […] deadline: o Get a Critique Partner. Don’t know how to set that partnership up? Read these guidelines o Don’t fluff the deadline – strive for it as if it were publication, not a contest o Plan […]

  5. […] “Critique Partner” – Read my post HERE on setting up that relationship so it will be […]


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