Monday, August 20, 2012

The Perks of Having Critique Partners (and Being One Too)

Just so you know, I have the most awesome CPs. Here are just a few reasons why...

1) Best feedback EVER. They send me the most insightful and incredibly helpful comments, things I would NEVER have thought about. They push me. When I’m being a lazy writer (and I KNOW I’m being a lazy writer), they call me on it. And they encourage me. Even in their most "brutal" feedback, they keep me going.

2) Brainstorming: Two hour phone chats. Non-stop back and forth texts. Documents and lists that rival the length of my manuscript. It is SO NICE to have people to bounce ideas off of.

3) They tolerate my neurotic-ness. I have a very crazy critique process with this particular project. One of my CPs gets two versions of my work: a clean version (with no neurotic comments) and a version with comments and questions scattered throughout. And she reads both of them—reactive comments on one, answers to my questions on the other. I hurl BRAIN SPEW at two of my CPs. In fact, I sent them one just the other week—four pages of my thoughts for fleshing out my main character’s “curse.” They must REALLY love me.

4) Reading their work strengthens my writing. I cannot even begin to tell you how TALENTED my critique partners are. One of my CPs is gifted in the art of dialogue and romance; another, in writing incredibly efficient and effective action sequences. One of my CPs writes Printz–worthy prose that would bring Laurie Halse Anderson to her knees. I learn from what they do well, and I learn from their mistakes too. Reading their work is not only an absolute joy, it helps me in my writing and revision process.

5) I get to read some of the BEST stories. Fantasy, Science Fiction, Contemporary, Paranormal—engaging stories with AMAZING premises, characters I want to brag to the world about. Romance that makes my mouth dry and my heart swoon.

6) Comments that keep me going. My current project has undergone two rewrites in the past two years. And to be honest, there have been so many times I just want to scrap the whole thing and start over or move onto something else. But when I get this kind of feedback…

I feel like every comment I’m making here is I LOVE THIS, but yeah… I really do.

Just pausing to say that I love this story. It is so NOT a chore to read for you.

(On my main character’s best friend) Hahaha oh my god he’s shameless. And the weird thing is, he should totally disgust me and yet I find him severely endearing.

I REALLY enjoyed reading this. Your writing has so much energy, it’s so alive. I could just read and read and read.

I am beaming! This entire conversation is hilarious and awesome.

It's hard to be brutal with something this good. Reading your pages is an absolute joy. You have such a great voice, such compelling characters, I find myself drawn into them--even more than some published books I've read!

Or wake up to tweets like this...

@alisonmiller20 And now I want to read PARADISE LOST. Good grief, woman!

I can't give up.

I love my story. I love my characters. But I don’t know if I would’ve ever written THE END on this draft without that kind of inspiring, encouraging, and motivational feedback.

7) Friendship. Yes, these are my writing partners, people I trust to give me the good, bad, and the not-always-easy-to-hear when it comes to feedback. And they do. They deliver incredibly objective, helpful, and encouraging feedback. But these same people have also become my friends—some of them very close friends. I think part of that stems from trusting each other with a very intimate and vulnerable part of ourselves. And you can’t help but have something beautiful develop out of that.

In an interview I did with the Write-Brained Network in February, my writer friend Cristin said it best (about critique partners): I think the most important thing is to find someone who gets what you’re writing – because otherwise they won’t be helpful to you, even if they’re the most skilled critiquer on the planet – and who has a generous heart and genuinely wants you to succeed. If you have those two things, everything else pretty much falls into place.

I have that. Gosh, do I have that. My critique partners are invaluable to my growth as a writer. And they are beautiful friends. I hope everyone can find such incredible camaraderie and be as truly fortunate in the critiquing world as I am.

So, do you have someone you want to brag about? Brag away in the comments!



23 comments:

  1. Me, me, me! I want to brag about people too:
    1) First you: thank you for putting my thoughts into words :D and for being so super duper great!
    2) My CP and my beta readers for ALL the reasons you mention!
    3) My Twitter friends for putting a smile on my face and as always my hubby for accepting that I revise or write while we could be spending more time together....

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    1. Oh those are great ones to brag about! You sound as blessed as I feel!

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  2. SO TRUE!! I'm so grateful for my CPs and am always looking for ways to be a better one. Great post!

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    1. Thanks! And I second the "looking for ways to be a better one." Good point!

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  3. I have two people I'm happy to brag about. Angela Ackerman and Vijaya Bodach who are my mentors, my friends and faithful critters.

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    1. Writing mentors FTW! So glad you have awesome CPs too!

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  4. What a wonderful blogpost love-letter to CPs! Sounds like you have a fabulous bunch. :)

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    1. I do. I am very blessed. Thanks, Rebecca!

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  5. I love being able to brain spew with someone who gets it, who understands how invested I am in my characters/book. And of course the nice WIP comments, those are always great, too :)

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    1. I do too. The brainstorming aspect especially. It helps SO MUCH

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  6. It's true -- having the feedback and encouragement really helps, and learning to catch other people's mistakes has helped me learn to catch my own. It's a win-win situation. I love my CPs too!

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    1. Definitely win-win! One of the best parts of my writing journey!

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  7. I totally agree! CPs are pretty fantastic and mine is especially so. I also feel like I've gained a really good friend now too, which is the cherry on top! :)

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    1. The friendships have been the best part, IMO. And yes - you do have a pretty fantastic CP!

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  8. Yay for awesome CPs! They really make all the difference in the world, don't they?

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    1. They do make a HUGE difference! And I am so thankful for mine. :)

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  9. All my CPs are worth their weight in gold. Don't know what I'd do without 'em.

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    1. I would have to say mine are priceless. :) I really don't know where I'd be without mine.

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  10. Not only are CPs critical, but I think it's important to have a variety. I've learned a lot just by reading their work. Glad you found yourself a stellar group!

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    1. Yes, agreed on the variety thing. And I'm glad my CPs write different YA Genres. I even had an adult writer critique my work at one point. Very helpful to have that objective insight.

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  11. You! I want to brag about you!

    You are a lovely, lovely person, and a crazy-talented writer, and I am grateful for your friendship every day.

    That is all. <3

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Yay! I LOVE comments!