by Narelle Atkins
Over the years I’ve been blessed to work with a number of critique partners and participate in critique groups.
A critique partner is a writing friend with whom you swap manuscripts for the purpose of critiquing and helping each other achieve your mutual goal of publication. There are no hard and fast rules. Some critique partners review one chapter at a time, others wait until the whole manuscript is complete before critiquing.
Critique partner relationships often work well if you partner with writers who are at a similar level to you. There needs to be a level of trust in the relationship, where you know you can provide gentle and honest feedback that will be appreciated by the recipient. If you’re looking for someone to tell you that your book is great, then give it to your mother. I believe a critique partner relationship is ineffective if it’s primarily a mutual admiration society.
I do tend to become emotionally attached to my critique partner’s stories and characters, as I’ve watched them evolve and develop through various story drafts. I brainstorm with my critique partners and we support and pray for each other. I value our friendships and we celebrate each other’s writing achievements and commiserate when we receive rejections.
Some critique partners and critique groups are there for a season, and others are more long term or evolve in different directions. I’m currently working in an online critique partnership with my dear writing friends Suzie Johnson and Stacy Monson. I met Suzie and Stacy though the Faith, Hope & Love Inspirational Chapter of RWA and they both live in the US. My dear friend Laura O’Connell and I met through Romance Writers of Australia and for a number of years we have critiqued each other’s work. Initially we swapped chapters and now we exchange complete manuscripts.
It can be hard to find the right critique partner, and it may take time to find someone or a group that works for you. When I was a newbie writer, my first face-to-face romance writing critique group were very kind and encouraging even though my story had massive issues and I was slowly learning the craft of writing. I’ve since moved cities and lost touch with those writers, but I will always appreciate their gentle encouragement.
I encourage you to find writing friends with whom you can develop an effective critique relationship. Sure, you can pay a manuscript appraisal service to critique your story, but you will miss out on the wonderful learning opportunities you can gain from critiquing someone else’s manuscript. And also miss out on the joy of watching your critique buddies publish and achieve their writing goals.
Do you have a critique partner or belong to a critique group? I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences.
Narelle Atkins writes contemporary inspirational romance. She resides in Canberra, Australia with her husband and children. She can also be found at the International Christian Fiction Writers blog. To learn more about Narelle, please visit her website.