How to Find the Perfect Critique Partners

Friday, July 24, 2009
Don't have one?

Get one.

Or two or three
Seriously, every good writer needs other writers to look over their work.

So, how do you get critique partners? Their are writing groups open to any new members. This is a great way to start. However, eventually, your going to outgrow an open crit group. When that happens, you can start your own "invite only" group, or hope you are invited to one.

At this point, it might be important to distinguish the difference between critique partners and critique groups. A critique partner will usually look at larger amounts of your work at their homes, while you bring a small amount to read out loud at groups. With my partners, we will either swipe an entire book, or a selected amount of pages, say 25. I've learned from past experience, that when trying out a new partner, start small. That way you don't end up with something you can't edit, whether because of taste or writing level issues.

Good partnerships work well when both partners are:

1. On a similar writing level. If their is a wide dichotomy, one person will feel like they don't get what they give. That's great, however, for the less experienced writer.

2. Have similar outputs. It's frustrating when you write 25 pages every week, and your partner takes 6 months.

3. Enjoy each other's writing. I added this after a comment from Stephanie (poor girl). Seriously, if you can't stand a person's writing, you probably shouldn't be editing it--if that person is in your critique group . . . well, I agree with Thumper, "if you can't say somethin' nice, don't say nothin' at all."

I'm lucky in writing partners. I work with published authors: Marion Jensen w/a Mathew Buckley, Janet Jensen, journalist JoLynne Lyon, and Cami Checketts.

Speaking of Cami, she and I worked on her book, Sister Pact, together. So, here's a shameless plug for my friend:

After a tragic fall leaves her sister in a coma, Savannah becomes the prime suspect in the investigation. Desperately hoping to prove her innocence, she convinces detective Noah Shumway to stay by her side at all times. But the close quarters prove too much for them to handle. Can Savannah find the proof she needs to show Noah she's not a monster? And how can she rely on her faith and keep her family safe when it seems all hope is lost? The Sister Pact is a thrilling story of action, suspense, and love. Full of unexpected twists, this book will keep you guessing until the very last page.

Buy her book!


  1. My last critique group left me a little jaded. One of the members was a very gruff New Yorker who wrote gritty crime novels. I write lighthearted romantic comedies. I brought in a book after a while of her ripping me to shreds and her only comment was, "This book is less shallow than your work usually is."

    It began to affect my writing. Yes, I want someone to challenge me but you have to be careful that someone isn't inflicting her own personal preferences on your writing. Maybe sometimes it's just the wrong fit...two people are just too different.

  1. Steph: That's just mean. Writers should know the difference between taste and quality. I'm sorry that happened to you.

  1. Hey Amber,

    Thanks for the plug!
    I personally love my critique group. I feel very lucky,

  1. Cami: I'm so glad I passed the "smell" test when Marion came to check me out at the League meeting!

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