Last week, I talked about the difference between Beta Readers (Betas) and Critique Partners (CPs) when it comes to the editing portion of the writing process. This week, we’re going talk about how to find those partners. Since CPs tend to come into the picture before Betas, we’re going to address them first.
Things to Know
- Decide what you want: Before you can create a partnership with anyone, whether for work or something else, the both of you have to come to an agreement about what you want out of that partnership. Are you looking for someone to brainstorm with? Are you looking for someone to help you flush out your characters? Are you looking for someone to proofread your entire novel before you send it out to betas? Are you simply looking for a friend to bounce ideas off of and chat with whenever you get stuck? Or are you looking for a mixture of a few of these things? This is important to decide because you should make sure that you and your critique partner are on the same page when it comes to your wants and needs as a writer. This, however, does not mean that your CP has to be at the same stage of the writing process that you are.
- Find someone you can learn from: My critique partner Is currently drafting his second book, and editing his first, while I’m still writing my debut. But that’s actually one of the reasons I love talking to him. He and I have completely different writing styles, but he’s really good at coming up with ideas if I get stuck in a tough spot and helping me stay motivated when I’m having a rough writing day. Because he and I are complete polar opposites in regards to how we write, I feel like we both learn a lot from each other. It’s not helpful in a good partner if you’re both at the exact same stage and level of writing because that means you have less to learn from the other person. Of course, it’s perfectly fine if you’re in the middle of writing your second draft when someone else is in the middle of writing their first, or if you’re marketing something that’s already been published when your partner is just getting ready to hit the publish button. Just make sure, before you commit to anything. that the partnership is a mutually successful one on both ends.
- Find someone with similar interests: I kind of touched on this in my previous post, but because your CP is going to be looking at your manuscript multiple times, It’s going to be really hard for them to be helpful if they really don’t like zombie horror stories, and that happens to be exactly what kind of book you’re writing. That’s not to say that your fabulous writing won’t convince them to give something a chance that they might have otherwise never picked up, but you have to make sure they are open top trying something new. Ask questions before you commit. Find out if there is any genre or content that they absolutely refuse to read. If that content happen to be in you’re book and it’s heavily featured, then they probably are not the right partner for you. It’s very hard to give someone good, solid, sound advice if you can’t find something to it enjoy about their writing.
Where To Look
- Join a local writing group: This is something that I’ve heard a lot of people talk about having a lot of success with. If you can find a local running group to join, it’s a great place to look for critique partners. Those people usually have similar goals, and it’s easy to have longer, more detailed conversations with someone if you are able to talk to them face-to-face.
- Be active on social media: This is how I found my critique partners, and so far, it’s worked out really well. Join writing conversations and groups on Twitter and Facebook, or search for those types of things on your preferred social media platform. Like the local writing group, those people and usually have like-minded interests, but the added bonus is they don’t need to live near you in order to help you progress in your writing.
- Research and reach out to large organizations: If you been in the writing community for some time, I’m sure you’ve heard of groups like Romance Writers of America or the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. I recently found the Association of Writers and Writing Programs, and I’m excited to start exploring their content. Not only do they have a mentoring program, but they have a job listing page and a calendar for the whole year detailing plenty of different conferences for writers from all walks of life to attend and meet with other writers, authors, publishers and editors. Some of these organizations require a fee to join, but in my opinion, the price is definitely worth the payoff.
Association of Writers and Writing Programs: https://www.awpwriter.org/
Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America: http://www.sfwa.org/
Romance Writers of America: https://www.rwa.org/
Challenge of the Week: How do you find your Critique Partners?