Wednesday, October 19, 2011

No Writer is an Island; Or, The Importance of Earnest Crit Buddies

For this blog chain post, Sarah asked:

Do you work with critique partners? How did you find your crit pals, and what influence have they had on your work?

I can't say enough about how important crit partners are to my writing. Neither could Michelle, whose post is here. Margie will post tomorrow.

I found my first crit partner in the same places I used to look for beta readers before I started "meeting" so many writers through blogging. Mostly websites like QueryTracker and Absolute Write. Finding readers there was easy. Finding readers I could trust took some time, but those sites also helped me to hone my query-writing skills, and learn the gentle art of constructive criticism. It wasn't until I'd been blogging a while that I discovered other people had trusted readers, sometimes small groups of them, that they called critique groups. You can probably guess that this was a huge epiphany. ;) 

Beta readers are invaluable, especially if they write in the genre you do. But even more important to my creative progress than trusted readers (and i've had quite a few over the years for evangeline. you know who you are and I'm terribly sorry i made you suffer through those horrid early versions. i promise the final version will actually be good, lol) are my amazing critique partners, Abby, Plamena and Jade.

We check in with each other pretty much every week, (mostly thanks to abby, who is the organized one) and offer our services. More than that, we offer an ear--a virtual one, anyway--to vent to, or to cheer each other on. It's nice to know that there are people who care about what's going on with my writing, when others in my life have begun to forget about the faith they once had in my writing career. (you know, non-writer folk, who don't realize what a slow beast publishing is. yes, those people. :P)

So while there's no way I could write without beta readers, there's no way I could function the way I do, and keep myself focused, goal oriented, without my crit group. They know my deadlines, and while they don't call me on them, just knowing that they know helps me stay motivated. And I can be absolutely certain that any comments they give me on my manuscript, or synopsis or queries, are meant honestly, and with my best interest at heart.

Actually, I'm looking for a new beta reader right now for this latest revision of Evangeline (any takers?), and while I'll always need to find new betas (even unabashedly soliciting them through a parenthetical in a blog post), while I'll always need new readers to evaluate my work from a fresh perspective, I'll never outgrow my crit buddies. And I'll never stop valuing their opinion of my writing.

Not only do crit buddies watch your writing change, evolve, they are a direct part of the process. I wouldn't be the writer I am today without them.

Thanks, y'all!

Where do you find your crit buddies?


Sandra Ulbrich Almazan said...

It's funny how one feels closer to one's crit partners than to beta readers. To me, there's a fine line between the two.

Good luck finding another beta partner!

Anonymous said...

What is the difference between a beta reader and a crit partner?

Plamena Schmidt said...

"non-writer folk" Lol That sounds like Muggles or something.

Other than that, very sweet post : )

Abby Annis said...

abby, who is the organized one

That is hilarious. I think that's the first time those words have all been used in the same sentence. ;)

My critters have definitely helped shape my writing for the better. Couldn't do this without mine. :)

Krispy said...

It sounds like you have an awesome group there! I totally need an organized person to keep me on point. Haha.

Good luck with revisions and finding a new beta! I'm curious to how your story has changed, but Real Life is kicking my butt so much right now. :P

Sophia Chang said...

This is SUCH a relevant post to my life right now! Just wrote you :)

Tere Kirkland said...

Anon, I guess the most important distinction in my mind, and others may have a different opinion on this, is that a beta reader is someone who reads your work for the first time, with a fresh eye. A crit partner is a different sort of relationship.

While I've swapped with betas before, and I've had betas read more than one story of mine, my crit buddies are the ones who see the same novel change over time. They are the ones who know what I'm working on most of the time, and I know the same about them.

So I guess the difference is trust is the most important thing in finding a crit partner, while a beta reader offers something that your crit partner can only give you once per work: a fresh perspective. Which is worth its weight in gold.

Renee Pinner said...

I'd be willing to beta read for you. I read mostly YA Paranormal. You're welcome to email me at

Jade said...


Jade said...

Stupid blogger wasn't letting me comment!

I agree! Where would we be without Abby? Love you guys LONG TIME!

Alexandra Shostak said...

All my crit partners I've found through blogging and twitter somehow. Which is interesting, considering I maintain that I'm a rather anti-social blogger :-P

Margie Gelbwasser said...

I really enjoy reading how much everyone's crit partner(s) helps them and the relationships of each. I also was interested to read about Beta readers as I never really had those. But I can see how they would be helpful.

Julie Musil said...

My critique partners are absolutely essential. I trust them so much, and I love they way they either catch something funky, force me to think through a plot hole, or compliment me when I do something right. Their value is immeasurable.

Chelle818 said...

You're lucky to have found such a great crit group. I have to rely on my sister. Sigh. We've swapped mss before, but I read Evangeline in third person. If you want me to read it again, drop me an email. mmcmurry (at) leglue (dot) com

Sherrie Petersen said...

I love my critique group. We just met today and the face time with them in invaluable. Just as working with beta readers offers a completely different take on my writing. I wouldn't be the writer I am today without both.