Monday, 28 May 2018

Working With Critique Partners - The After Process


WORKING WITH CRITIQUE PARTNERS

One thing you'll hear a lot about in the pre and post publishing world is the idea of critique partners. Some authors will swear by them and others don't really see what the big fuss is about. I've had CPs on and off for the majority of my writing career. And I'm one of those people who thinks they are a godsend and something you are made a better writer by having. Of course you need to find the right one, the one that fits your genre and you both are of the same skill level, both of you writing to the same target audience and all of that jazz, but once you do? Great things happen.

And I say one, but it doesn't have to be one. In fact I'd recommend at least two because that way you're getting two different points of view on your writing. That's only going to be a good thing. But in case you're not sure what a CP actually is, lemme give you a quick break down. A critique partner is someone who is also a writer. They are generally writing in the same genre and or to the same target audience to you. They are of a similar skill level to you, and they basically take your manuscript and read through it before it goes to betas or is even finished. I have my CPs read in 20 chapter chunks, but you can do less or more, it's up to you. They point out the good bits, and the bits that need improving and with their critique you're able to fine tune your work to be the best it can be before it gets to the beta stage.

So that's what the big deal is about, you need to have more than just your eyes and then your editors eyes on your work. You need to have reached out to betas as well, but I'll cover that in another piece. For now I'll talk about how to work best with CPs, and where you can find them.

#1. WORK OUT WHAT WORKS FOR BOTH OF YOU
By this I mean work out when you're going to swap chapters - will you do it in small chunks or big ones? Will you do it every few weeks no matter what you've written or is there going to be an as needed basis? How often will you critique for each other? If they're coming in at the middle of a series, do they need to have read the other books for things to make sense? How are you going to swap? Are you going to use Word and add comments or Google Doc to do the same? Do you have a timeframe when they need to have the book back to you? Are you looking for a sensitivity read at the same time? Are they qualified to give that?

These are all questions you need to be hashing out between you. There's no perfect way to do it because the best way is the one that works for both of you. I have a different group of CPs for my sci-fi dystopian than I do for my contemporary paranormal mystery, and that should be obvious why. How we make it work is not always going to work for you and your CPs and that's okay.

#2. FINDING CPs
A lot of people with similar interests hang around together. The indie world is not as small as you might think, at least when it comes to friends and connections. I found my CPs from both youtube and the authortube community as well as The Book Robin Hoods who have a forum for this exact reason. You can also find them on Twitter or Tumblr, there are several blogs that do CP connections that are ongoing. What you need to look for in a CP is basically someone who is of a similar skill level and also writes in a similar genre. It's not always going to be a perfect fit from the start, but that's not always a bad thing. Once you find CPs that will work with you, then you're basically done.

#3. STICK TO YOUR SIDE OF THE DEAL
The idea being that they don't just read your work, but you read theirs as well. This is one of the reasons why you want to be a similar skill level. Not only because if they're above you, you'll struggle to find a fit that works, but also because if they're below you, their feedback isn't going to be on the level that you want. So when you reach out to a CP, make sure that you're going to be happy reading their work. If not, then you need to seriously consider whether partnering with this writer is a good idea. It's no good asking for their feedback on your work if you don't intend to do the same for them.

So there you have it, working with critique partners and all the good that comes from them. If you've got any tips of tricks about CPs, let us know in the comments below!

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