Friday, January 13, 2012

10 Reasons Why Having a Critique Partner Will Rock Your World

Enjoy the following guest post from Laura Pepper Wu. She's a pretty sharp cookie.  ~Hope
Laura Pepper Wu is the founder of Ladies Who Critique and the co-founder of the book marketing and promotions company, 30 Day Books. She realized the value of having a critique partner through her in-person writing group, but when it became harder and harder to make the Saturday afternoon meetings she began to search for help online. After realizing how difficult it was to find a suitable critique partner who “got” her genre, she founded Ladies Who Writers of all levels are welcome to join - men too! - and begin their search for the perfect critiquing relationship. It’s free and always will be!

10 Reasons Why Having a Critique Partner Will Rock Your World

I learned the value of having a second pair of eyes, or in my case a second pair of ears, when I started attending a writing group in early 2010. Not only did our weekly Saturday meetings motivate me to write (and rewrite) each week so that I would have something to read out loud, it gave me the confidence to call myself a writer. I made some fantastic friends who I shared the journey step by step to publishing my first book.
Despite having read one of the chapters of my manuscript several times, one of my characters arrived in a taxi but left in his car and this had completely passed me by! I was in disbelief when this was pointed out to me, but it confirmed for me that sometimes we are simply too close to our work for too long, and that it’s far too easy to miss gaping holes and inconsistencies.
In addition to all that, I felt my writing grow and improve simply by being exposed to other  writers and witnessing their books coming together piece by piece. Almost through the power of osmosis I began to learn which story plots worked, how to create effective conflict and what a well-fleshed out character was composed of. Plus hanging out with other writers was awesome and I returned from each meeting with a new spark in my step.
In case I haven’t convinced you yet that having a critique partner or being in a critiquing group will really rock your world, here are my top 10 reasons why. If I missed anything, please leave a comment below!

1. Accountability. A reason to write each day since someone is waiting to read your work!
2. To raise your spirits. Writing has it’s fair share of tough moments. There is nothing nicer than someone complimenting your last chapter to cheer you up.
3. Build your confidence. Are you nervous to put your work out there? Showing it to a CP is a great first step to showing your writing to the world.
4. Find “your voice”. A great CP will help you to see where you are going wrong, and more importantly, where you are going right.
5. Give you a different point of view. Stuck, unsure about a phrase, character or storyline? Having a second opinion can help. After all two brains are better than one!
6. A fresh pair of eyes. A beta reader or critique partner will help you see your work – which you have been too close to for too long from a fresh perspective. This makes it easy to reveal inconsistencies, plot holes or lack of description/ vital information.
7. A critique partner can help reverse writers block. And that happens to the best of us!
8. It makes the writing process less lonely. We’re social creatures and we need a  little contact each day. Connecting with your CP is like a virtual coffee break or lunch date.
9. Support. A great CP is your biggest fan and greatest cheerleader. She can offer you advice from someone who ‘gets’ the writing world, as well as supporting your promotional efforts when the time comes to publish.
10. A preview of what your readers will say later. As a writer you are going to receive feedback whether you ask for it or not – from agents, publishers, editors and eventually reviewers. Let your CP catch any holes or flaws in your writing first.
Bonus Reason: For those writers wanting to self publish, readers are repeatedly pointing out plot holes, inconsistencies, spelling errors and general problems with manuscripts that make a book look obviously ‘self published’ in their reviews. This can harm sales of a book or eBook for a very long time. Critique is a very different thing from editing, but having a group of critique partners, as well as a professional editor, is a crucial part of maintaining a high standard in your manuscript.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing this, Laura. Your reasons are spot on.

I would add this bonus reason (based on my recent experience): critique partners just might ask the questions you hope your reader will call up - those questions that inspire readers to continue to the next page and beyond. If yes, and the feedback is positive, this can help you decide if you are playing out the story in an engaging way (or not).

I will check out your link to Ladies Who Critique too. Thank you!

Janet, said...

I totally agree! They catch so many things (minor and major) that we miss.

Hope Clark said...

I couldn't live without a critique partner (or two). They make you see the big picture, too, when you're mired in the tiny details. And vice versa.

Laura Pepper said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Laura said...

Thanks for having me Hope! And Tracy that's a great point. I'd love to see you over on LWC! :D

Kathryn J. Bain said...

I have an on-line critique group that is awesome. I can tell the difference in my writing from just one year before I had them. They're the reason I'm now published. I'm still comma challenged, but I am getting better at it.

Kelly Robinson said...

I'm working up the courage to ask someone I think will be a great one. Wish me luck!

Brian said...

Looks as if for now I am the lone male in this forum. My dileema is this? I have tried to pitch a manuscript for a story of socially conscious fiction to several agents but have gotten no takers. Have thought about self-publsihing and actually did self-publish two stories a while back. For this I have been accepted by one such outfit but it is very expensive. Have thought about writers' groups too but most are located too far away from me to make it feasible to attend regularly. Was wondering what other options I may have.

Laura said...

Brian, sorry I just saw this. You are VERY welcome to join Ladies Who Critique, we have several men over there. I'm sure you could find a critique partner to work on your manuscript with. Best of luck!