By Kelly Bridgewater
How do you find critique partners? If you are like me, then you have joined a number of the ACFW’s critique groups, hoping for someone who would help bring life to the story you have poured your heart into.
But what does a critique partner do for you? I have a suggestion of three things, so this shouldn’t be that long of a post to read. (Yeah, I know.)
1.) Know the Genre
What good would it do to have someone who focuses on historical western romances when you want to write contemporary thrillers? Try to find someone who enjoys reading the same genre. That way the partner will know the plot points and what is missing from your story.
2.) Willing to be Honest
I know this sounds funny. But I HATE when I was in graduate school and my one of my writing class had underclassmen in it. No offense to them, but I was farther along in my writing skills, and I hated getting critiques back from them that said, “Great. I would change nothing. You’re a great writer.” I wanted to slam the piece on the table. That offered no help. I know I’m not that good, or I wouldn’t be trying to learn all I could to improve my writing.
If your critique partner isn’t willing to show you your weaknesses, then what are they trying to do? I can give you plenty of people who will pat your shoulder and praise your work. Ask your mother or father. I’m sure they will say that you are the best writer around.
I want to improve my craft, so I want someone to say, “Kelly, your setting doesn’t come alive to me. Here is a book that will help. Look at Susan May Warren’s writing. She is good at anchoring the reader to the setting.” (I am studying her books for that right now!) Who doesn’t need to hear the truth some time?
On Seekerville in the middle of May, one of the writers asked if writers had people in their court praying for them. Made me think. I ask my writer friends to look at my work, but I never think to have them pray for me when I’m in the pit of despair and doubt God’s chosen work for me. Even if I sent off a tiny email, mentioning the prayer. You don’t have to go into specifics. Just say you need prayer.
This is something I need to work on!
What are other suggestions do you have for what a critique partner should do for you?