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Well, hello there. I see you, huddled under that blanket. Waiting to see if you have a match, staring blearily at your computer screen. Or...

Trying Out a New Critique Partner, or OH MY GOSH, WHAT HAVE I DONE? Trying Out a New Critique Partner, or OH MY GOSH, WHAT HAVE I DONE?

2015

Trying Out a New Critique Partner, or OH MY GOSH, WHAT HAVE I DONE?

Well, hello there.

I see you, huddled under that blanket. Waiting to see if you have a match, staring blearily at your computer screen. Or maybe it's more like this:


I'll ignore the chocolate stains on your Dr. Who pajama bottoms. (Or Loki pajama bottoms. No judging here.) Or no bottoms, because I've seen a rather large number of writers admit to not wearing pants at all. (I write middle grade, so I find the lack of pants hilarious.) (And I tend to overuse parentheses.) (Because they're fun.)

Finding a new critique partner involves lots of excitement. And if you're at all neurotic, lots of nervousness. Will they like my writing? What if I think it's okay and they tell me it deserves to be dunked in sewage and fed to crocodiles in the Nile? What if *gasp* they like it, and they like it enough to kind of force me to really get serious about submitting? Oh, all sorts of things are likely going through your brain right now. And if this is your first critique partner, you don't have any idea what to expect.

Well, guess what?

You won't have any idea what to expect.

I met my first critique partner through blogging, way back in 2008. I read her posts about how she and her husband got together, and I fell in love with her evocative style of writing. Indeed, I had always loved to read, but recently had started writing down some of the stories I told my children, besides my regular blogging. Then this new friend told me about a writing conference far away from my home in Missouri, or her  home in Canada, and we finally got to meet in person in 2010.

As you might have guessed, Kimberly VanderHorst was my very first critique partner ever.

The first time I sent her pages, I was such a tender writer. And that's the perfect word for it. I wanted to be prepared for criticism, but the truth was that I knew any criticism would sting. Gentle touches on a sunburn of fear and doubt. Would she be mean? Would she like it? Were my words worth working on?

I tend to imagine worst-case scenarios (shocking, a writer who imagines), so I was pleasantly surprised when she gave me feedback that was very helpful. It did sting a little, but only because my skin hadn't toughened up yet. But Kimberly was encouraging and told me my words had worth. She wouldn't let me give up. And I believed in her stories so much that critiquing for her helped me feel like I took part in bringing beauty and magic and feeling to the world. Because what are we without magic, and beauty, and pain, and feeling, and stories? Our whole existence is made up of stories. And while we both were way less experienced back then than we are now, I credit Kim with getting me started on that path. I wouldn't be where I am without her.

So, my friends, you need critique partners. Scary? Absolutely. But oh, so necessary. I was lucky on the first try. But it's been harder to find more since then, yet I have. So it might take a little work. You may find a match or two right off, or it may take a little while. But when you find someone you click with, hold on to them. Tightly. And the biggest clue that someone is a good fit for you? Not only do they get what you're trying to say with your story, and they give you constructive criticism, their critique should leave you feeling excited to work on your manuscript. Even if you need a few days to process their feedback first.

Lick that chocolate off your fingers and get ready. Because the moment when you find a new critique partner?


Yeah. Priceless.

3 comments:

A few days ago, someone asked me the following question: "Do you think I'm ready for a critique partner?" The answer i...

The Shoe Metaphor The Shoe Metaphor

2015

The Shoe Metaphor



A few days ago, someone asked me the following question:

"Do you think I'm ready for a critique partner?"

The answer is yes. The answer to that question is ALWAYS yes.


 


Whether you've just finished your first book during NaNoWriMo, or completed intense revisions on your eighteenth novel, there is never a time in your progression as a writer when an outside opinion doesn't have the potential to be life-changing.

That's not to say that every outside opinion WILL be. I once had someone do a content edit of my full manuscript in which they questioned every single simile. "You say she's like a duck here, but she's not REALLY a duck, so I found this confusing."

Yeah. That happened.

Trading material with potential critique partners is a lot like trying on shoes. Just because the info on the box looks good, doesn't mean the shoe inside is going to fit you perfectly. BUT, just because one pair doesn't fit, doesn't mean something super shiny and lovely isn't waiting in the next box.


 


Write Type is like a shoe store, and our boxes will have convenient little windows in them so you can peek at what's inside. But you can't really KNOW if a critique partnership will work until you try it out. 

As to the question that prompted this post, PLEASE. Please don't believe that nasty little voice in your head telling you that you don't deserve shoes. That voice is a moron. EVERYONE deserves shoes. And finding the right ones can take you and your story amazing places.

If you're like me, one of your very favorite parts of working with a critique partner will be those moments when you realize YOU are another writer's favorite pair of shoes. It's true. That happens. YOU can be the one who's comfortable and supportive enough to help someone keep going, no matter how rough the road gets.

I will keep saying this until I am blue in the face: We don't have to make this journey alone. Writing is NOT a solitary profession anymore.

Whether you're looking to trade beta reads, line edits, or find the critique partner equivalent of a BFF, give Write Type a try. You might be exactly the pair of shoes someone needs to get where they need to go. And if you don't find a pair of shoes that's a good match for you, you'll at least come out of the experience with some new writerly connections, and a more detailed "shopping list" of exactly what you're looking for in a critique partner.

It helps to know what your perfect shoe MIGHT look like. Makes it easier to spot in the crowd. ;)

As you wait for Write Type to launch, give some thought to what you're looking for in a critique partner, and what kind of critique partner you'd like to be in return. New to the world of critique partnering? Wondering how it all works? We'll be writing a post on that soon. In the meantime, we would LOVE to hear your questions/concerns in the comment section below. 

Happy shopping to you!

6 comments:

Hi friends! I'm glad you're here. Kim, Rebecca, and I decided to host a CP match-up because finding the right critique partners has...

Critique Partners > Your English Major Sister Critique Partners > Your English Major Sister

2015

Critique Partners > Your English Major Sister

Hi friends! I'm glad you're here. Kim, Rebecca, and I decided to host a CP match-up because finding the right critique partners has done so much for us. I can say pretty definitely that I wouldn't be where I am today if I hadn't found some incredible critique partners. 
Now, I know what some of you are thinking. You think you don't need CP's, because your spouse/mom/sibling is an English major and they read for you.
Fox TV no new girl bar wrong
Apologies. I have feelings.
Let me tell you a story.
A version of this was originally posted here in June of 2014.
Once, I met a girl who’s new to writing novels. She told me she’d finished her first draft and was about to revise.
“Awesome!” I told her. Then I asked, “Do you have a critique group?”
“Oh, no. My sister was an English major and she’s editing it for me.”
Me:
ok animated GIF
“Oh… that’s cool. You know, you might want to consider finding some other writers to look at it. Writers really know what to look for when it comes to critiquing.”
Yeah, girlfriend did not want my advice. Probably I should stop giving it to people who don’t ask.
“Well, she reads A TON, so she actually knows what she’s talking about.”
Me:
FYI, I’ve heard “they ACTUALLY know what they’re talking about” so many times.  Just so you know, that’s like saying someone who watches a lot of medical dramas ACTUALLY knows how to perform surgery. So. Yeah. Enjoy that experience.
Guys, I’ll admit, I haven’t been writing my entire life. But I think that makes it easier to see how I’ve grown. I’ve gone through this, and I am telling you there is a huge difference in the feedback you get from a critique partner who specializes in writing novels and your undoubtedly awesome non-novelist English major sibling/friend/romantic partner.
Writer friends, you will learn more about writing stories from other story writers, because they’ve studied the craft. There’s more to it than correct grammar. There’s structure, plot, character, character arc, voice, pacing, and SO MANY THINGS that people who sit down and write novels know so much more intimately than people who’ve only studied them.
And completely aside from this, it’s my opinion that novels should be workshopped, not “edited.” You wrote one draft and now your friend is fixing your grammar and then you’re going to query?
no austin powers dr evil how about no goldmember
 That book is not ready. Writing groups and critique partners don’t fix your grammar. They fix your entire book. Fixing the grammar/typos/wording is called “polishing” and it’s YOUR job, and you do it when the overall story issues are fixed.
Oh, and also, most English Majors don’t actually study much (if any) editing or grammar.
So, my friends, if you don't have a critique partner, please consider submitting some of your work to our match-up event. It will be a giant step forward in your writing career.


0 comments:

Hosting our YA entries: Kimberly Vanderhorst - Write Type Founder Kimberly Vanderhorst is a spec-fic author who cherishes al...

Our Hosts Our Hosts

2015

Our Hosts





Hosting our YA entries:


Kimberly Vanderhorst - Write Type Founder
Kimberly Vanderhorst is a spec-fic author who cherishes all things strange and beautiful. Being the socially awkward yet delightsome person she is, she brained up the concept of an event that gives authors a sneak peek at potential critique partners' words.

She's super clever and devious like that.

Other claims to fame include running Prism Editing (where at least 50% of all profits go to charity), co-hosting the bi-annual Pitch Slam contest, serving on the committees for the annual Whitney Awards program and the annual LDStorymakers Conference, and founding her local writers' guild.


Despite being a city girl with a tendency to cuss a lot, Kimberly is married to an LDS minister and lives in rural northern Canada. There, she helps raise her four lovely daughters while pretending not to be afraid of the neighbour's chickens. 

@Kymburleev 

Website



Hosting our Adult entries:



Caitlyn McFarland - Write Type Co-Host
Originally from the Midwest, Caitlyn McFarland currently lives in Utah with her husband and three young daughters. She has a Bachelor’s degree in linguistics from Brigham Young University. 

When she’s not writing about dragons or running around after her daughters, she can be found hunched over a sewing machine making elaborate princess costumes. Caitlyn is represented by Marlene Stringer of Stringer Literary Agency LLC, and is the author of the Dragonsworn trilogy (Carina Press 2015).

Published Works
@CHMcFarland
Website


Hosting our MG entries:



Rebecca Blevins - Write Type Co-Host
Rebecca Blevins is from the Midwest, 
land of tornadoes and cows—hopefully not mixed together. She began reading before she can remember, so books have always been part of her life. 

Rebecca’s love of reading has turned into an affinity for writing. Her first book—at age four—was a huge hit, with a cut-up diaper box cover and pages of stick-figure drawings. 

Now that she considers herself a grownup, Rebecca writes about pirates with rooster pox and princesses with pet anteaters, as well as tales for young adults. Her first book through Trifecta, Captain Schnozzlebeard and the Singing Clam of Minnie Skewel Island, was released on March 31st, 2015. 

@Rebecca_Blevins
Website

0 comments:

"Writing quality books without a critique partner is like trying to climb a mountain with your hands tied behind your back. You c...

Because Your Dream Critique Partner is Worth Searching For Because Your Dream Critique Partner is Worth Searching For

2015

Because Your Dream Critique Partner is Worth Searching For




"Writing quality books without a critique partner is like trying to climb a mountain with your hands tied behind your back. You could probably pull it off eventually, but why sabotage yourself like that?"

I've had a lot of critique partners in my life. One could go so far as to say I've had more than my fair share. Some have been for one project only. Some are the all too rare and precious keeping-for-life critique partners who are among my favorite people on the whole damn planet*. 

*Not just because they have mad critiquing skills and help me take my writing up about a hundred-and-three notches, but because of who they are as people. 

I adore these women**, and for some crazy reason they adore me back. Believing that is a really big deal for me. The voice of self-doubt in the back of my mind has a megaphone strapped to it. For me to admit that ANYONE adores me is pretty much a miracle. And yet when it comes to my critique partners, I don't doubt it. That's how amazing at loving and encouraging me these women are.

Whatever stage of the writing process you're at, whether you're a testing-the-waters novice, a slogging-in-the-query-trenches veteran (like myself), or an agented and/or published pro, critique partners can make all the difference. And we hope you won't let where you are in your journey deter you from finding the people you want to take that journey with. Writers of ALL skill levels are welcome here. This isn't about trying to have the best excerpt or the cleverest bio. It's about trying to find someone who's in a similar place as you. Someone you might be able to climb the mountain of the publishing industry with.


Now, it can be awkward as hell to meet someone in the online writing community and trade chapters because you write "the same kind of stuff," only to find out that you are otherwise COMPLETELY incompatible. There are a lot of factors that go into critique partner compatibility, and some of them aren't quantifiable, but here are a few things to consider:

1) Are you at similar enough skill levels to enjoy working with one another?

2) Do you enjoy the subject matter of each others' stories?

3) Do you enjoy each others' writing styles enough to want to read HUNDREDS of pages of each others' words?

4) Are your critiquing styles helpful to each other?

5) Do you click on a personal level?

I'm not going to pretend that Write Type will answer all those questions for you (or the many others not included here), but we hope that in reading the excerpts in the Write Type entries, you'll find some insights into possible answers to questions 1-3, and maybe a little of number 5 too.

Some people find their dream critique partners fairly early on. Some search for years before finding their "dream team." Personally, I've been one of the lucky ones (it's more about luck than merit, I think), and it seems only fitting to pay that forward by helping others get a couple steps closer to finding their "match."

Best of luck. And if you have questions or concerns, please contact us through the comment form below, or on the #WriteType twitter hashtag.


**I'm not averse to working with men at ALL. The opportunity just hasn't cropped up yet. :)

1 comments:

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