Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Search For That Special Someone: Critique Partners

Writing is often thought of as a solitary pursuit, but it doesn’t have to be. Most successful writers rely on the help of trusted critique partners through at least part of the writing process.
So, how do you find a potential critique partner? Sometimes a critique partnership evolves out of a friendship. Natural curiosity over what a friend’s writing is like often leads to questions about the story, and then reading and commenting. If you find yourself in need of a critique partner, maybe it’s time to reach out through social media and make some connections. 
  • Comment regularly on blogs you enjoy. Sometimes commenting can lead to discussion, and over time a friendship might form. But pay attention to the blog’s content. Does the writer often mention his or her beloved critique partner? Does he or she already have a sidebar entitled “My Critique Partners! I Love Them OMG I Don’t Know What I’d Do Without Them!!!” Maybe someone without an established writer group would be a better fit.
  • Twitter is another great way to connect and find other writers. The people you find yourself replying to often end up becoming friends. The instant nature of Twitter makes it easy to find out if someone else might also be open to becoming critique partners.
Something to keep in mind:
It's not uncommon for friendships to break up over feedback that's perceived as insensitive. Remember that there can often be an enormous level of trust and intimacy involved in sharing your writing. Try not to let a good friendship go bad over a critique... strive to be mindful of your critique partner's feelings while still be truthful, and take their feedback with a grain of salt!

So, now you've found someone who's looking for a critique partner too. Time to send your novel or dive into weekly chapter exchanges, right? Not necessarily! Critiquing someone’s novel is a big investment of time. Before taking on someone’s entire book-- and sending your own-- it’s a good idea to figure out if you and your potential critique partner’s styles mesh.
  • Ask questions. Find out the genre and a bit about the story to see if it sparks your interest. Giving someone a careful critique means you’ll need to read the story attentively, and if you don’t enjoy the genre or story idea, you might not be the best person to offer feedback. 
  • Rather than send your entire story to new critique partner, try sending only the first chapter or two. Once you receive your chapter back and read through the feedback, you’ll have a better idea of what kind of critiquer her or she is.
  • This goes both ways. When exploring a new critique partnership, offer to read the first few chapters. This will give the other writer the chance to see if your feedback style matches what he or she is hoping for. It will also give you a chance to see if the other writer’s story is one you’ll enjoy and be able to offer supportive feedback on.
Once you’ve found that person who seems to click with you, and whose story is one you’re ready to get behind and support, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and get critiquing! And before you know it, you'll wonder how you ever got along without them, too!

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Diana Paz is a web content writer and aspiring YA author. She grew up on Miami Beach, moved to Los Angeles in high school, and went to college in San Diego. Basically, she's a beach bum, but she did graduate from California State University, San Marcos with a Bachelor's Degree in Liberal Arts. She loves old movies, epic fantasy, all kinds of music, and heading to the beach with a good book. Preferably sipping a caramel frappuccino. Find her at her blog: or on Twitter @dianapazwrites


  1. Great post, Di! CP's are SO important. Great advice! Twitter has been invaluable for finding CP's and Betas ;o)

  2. Thanks, Erica! I agree. Some of my CPs came from Twitter too!

  3. I found a good way to find critique partners was to make friends with other writers, even if they didn't read what I wrote. A good site for that is inkpop and authonomy. Try to chat up people in the forums. Chances are, you'll find somebody that's just as passionate as you are about writing and you'll start bonding over other things and eventually find somebody that writes what you write!

    Great post, Diana!

  4. I found/stumbled upon one of my favorite crit partners reading blogs. Eventually we swapped books and now we are starting a blog for critiquing together. It won't be live for another week, but we hope to help people find crit partners.

    We know how hard it is to find someone that will be honest in a kind enough way that you can swallow what needs to be done. Sometimes you have to try out a few partners before you find a good fit. But it is oh, so worth it when you find a good one.

    Great post!

    If anyone is interested, Unicorn Bell goes live May 23rd. There is a questionnaire up now.

  5. I agree with all of the above. Having a critique partner is like the river that runs over the rough stones - over a period of time, the rought edges smooth over and its a reciprocal thing. I have a UK based partner but since my writing is based in the US, I wouldnt mind having a US person look at my work from an American perspective. I have lived in the US for periods of time so I have more insight that other Brits/Irish people have but still...

    Great blog and I enjoy tuning into it

  6. Sorry I missed this post, Di, I was at a funeral. This is so true and I love how you give ideas on how to find a partner. I love my CPs they help me fix those parts I just can't get right. Excellent post! :D