Sarah J. Carlson

Contemporary Young Adult Author

Non-writers just don’t understand: Good critique partners are PRICELESS


fg116Lately I’ve been feeling blessed. Blessed because, over the past few months, I’ve hooked up with some amazing and skilled critique partners. I already had a number from the Singapore Writers Group, but my newer crit partner friends are fellow YA/MG writers, which is so helpful. I’ve met my new friends through contests to get mentorship from published or soon-to-be published authors, such as PitchWars and Nightmare on Query Street. I’ve also met some critique partners through Twitter pitching contests such as PitMad and PitchMAS, where you’re throwing out tweet-length pitches about your novel and hoping agents are intrigued by them. Regardless what happens in these contests, I’ve met loads of amazing writers who are very active on Twitter. Found so many people willing to look at first pages and query letters and Twitter pitches. I’ve gotten into a new critique group. I’ve connected with several talented YA writers and we’re exchanging materials. It’s amazing how supportive the writing community is on Twitter (and in general). Seriously, if you’re a writer and you’re not on Twitter, get on there! I can honestly say I would still be stuck trying to sort out my first chapters in one of my WIPs had I not met my new friends.

I’ve also been reflecting on what makes a great CP. It’s exciting/nerve-wracking to let people read our WIPs and, especially if we’re new to writing, it can be hard to find people to even read it period.

Starting with a new critique partner can kind of feel like this:

mean-girls-trust-falls-oBut not all readers are created equal. Critiquing is a skill, and when we find a great one, it’s a bit more like this:

239982__UNOPT__safe_rainbow-dash_pinkie-pie_animated_hug_wonderbolts-academy_spoiler-s03e07.gifAnd if you get an amazing critique group:

group-hug-oIn my very humble opinion, here are a few things that make some of my CPs so great:

  • They get excited about my WIP.
  • They tell me both what’s working and what’s not working.
  • They tell me what they think, even if they are worried that I won’t like it. While also offering constructive suggestions on ways to improve.
  • They look at the big picture, overall plot and characterization, as well as the small picture, how individual passages flow.
  • They call me out on things like cliches, repetitive word use, excessive verbiage, etc. And using colors too much, cuz I apparently throw colors around like woah.
  • They ask questions about where I see things going and offer suggestions on how to get there.
  • As we work together, they pick up on my strengths and struggles as a writer and help me address my weaknesses.

And there’s so many more things, which is why good CPs are worth their weight in gold. If I had to pinpoint what’s pushed me to be the writer I am today, a big part of it was hooking up with (and listening to) crit partners.

What do you think makes a good critique partner?

Post your Twitter handle below and I will follow you!

4 thoughts on “Non-writers just don’t understand: Good critique partners are PRICELESS

  1. Jennifer Austin - Author

    I have betas, but only one CP, and even that’s a tentative relationship. In order to get the critique you need, you also have to give it. I think I’m a good critiquer but it all takes TIME! Something I wish I had more of. Hopefully I will find a good group of fellow YAers to work with someday, but I agree, they are worth their weight in gold. BTW my Twitter handle is JLAustin13

    Liked by 1 person

    1. sjoycarlson Post author

      Yeah, tell me about it. This past month I’ve done a full novel critique and 3 3000 word critiques, and I am comprehensive!!! Have you considered joining SCBWI, if you’re not a member? You may be able to find YA specific crit groups in your home area. Oh, and I just followed you on Twitter 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Amos M. Carpenter

    I’d make a great critique partner… if you don’t mind honest feedback and what you’re looking for happens to be a pedantic perfectionist grammar-nazi who struggles to find enough time for his own writing, let alone for reading and critiquing others’ writing 😉 But I’m glad to hear you’ve got a great support team!


  3. S. R. Carrillo

    This is one of my biggest weaknesses – finding people who will give a shit about my WIPs. I had a writers group that met weekly before I joined the Army (that was like 5 years ago!), but since then it’s been hopeless looking for me. Luckily, thanks to actually blogging, I’ve found a handful, but that was after I had already published my first novel, so that one went to the masses a little blindly (not gonna lie).

    I never thought of using Twitter as a means to finding new writers and critique patterns. Then again, as a self published author, pitch tags and such are not a good place for me to find them…

    And there goes my incredibly introspective and self-centered comment of the week.


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