Tuesday, December 6, 2011

How can you find good critique partners?

Back to the question posts. I was asked, How can you find good critique partners?

Okay, this I’m not an expert on by any means. I know there are sites that match up critique partners, but I don’t know enough about them to recommend which are better than others. (Update: But there are plenty of experts out there! Just check out the comments. Such great advice!)

I’ll tell you how I got mine, in case it helps you find some.

One of my CPs is Erin Summerill. She was one of my bffs years before either of us became writers. When I decided I wanted to plow forward at full steam, I wanted a buddy to do it with. I knew that Erin had enjoyed writing a little before I met her, so I decided to try to talk her into plowing ahead with me. Turns out she had been closet writing! And she had already gotten to the same I want to do this for real place I was! That "talking her into it" took about as long as it took to get out the words "Wanna be my writing buddy?" (P.S. Talking one of your friends into writing is a great way to get the ultimate kind of writing partner.)

Erin and I took a semester-long class together where the teacher split us into writing groups for critiquing. We got to test-drive our group, if you will, during the semester. One of the guys in our group, Jason Manwaring, worked really well with us, and the three of us managed to also snag someone else we really loved working with-- the teacher’s aide, Rob Code. It’s been three years now, and the four of us still meet weekly (unless that’s not possible) and submit a chapter at a time. (P.S. Going to writing classes is a great way to meet writers with the same goals as you.)

Another of my CPs is Jessie Humphries. She lives six hours away from me, but she was one of 450 people at a conference Erin and I attended, and we happened to sit by her at lunch one day. Jessie pretty much rocks, so it wasn’t hard to become friends. We both started blogging at the same time, so we became a mini blog support group and later, critique partners. We send each other our completed manuscripts. (P.S. Conferences give you great chances to chat with other writers who are also serious about writing.)

Another CP is my friend Marie Criddle. About a year and a half ago, she guest posted on a blog I regularly read, and I followed the link to her blog, where I discovered that she is BRILLIANT and so much fun. I stalked her for a long time before I got up the guts to email her. We discovered that we got along great, and eventually traded manuscripts. She lived a couple of states over, but I actually got to meet her in person once before she moved across the ocean. (P.S. Reading blogs is a great way to get to know other writers.)

So, I found my CPs in a friend, a writing class, a writer's conference, and through blogging. I guess the answer is, get to know as many writers as you can, through whatever means works best for you. You’ll find people you love to chat with and chances are, if you love to chat with them, you’ll love the type of stuff they write, too. But I'd highly recommend becoming friends first. It'll make everything go so much easier.

How about you? Do you have critique partners? If you do, how did you find yours? (If you're looking for CPs, check out the comments! Everyone will probably fill in all the gaps I missed.)(P.S. Thank you, commentors!)


Cynthia DiFilippo Elomaa said...

I found two of mine through Ladies who Critque. Great site!

Kelley Lynn said...

I do have CPs and they are wonderful! One I found through blogging.

The other I found through Ladies who Critique!

Love them :)

Leigh Ann said...

One of my critique partners is a saintly woman who was one of two people following my little blog, saw that I had finished my first first draft, and offered to read it. (Hi, G!) I'm still apologizing to her for it to this day. Luckily, she's stuck with me.

The other two of my critique partners, I stalked at WriteOnCon and another blog contest (I am dead serious about this) salivated over reading their manuscripts because they sounded SO DARN GOOD, and batted my eyes and begged them to read. They agreed to read mine as well, and in the past few months, there has been much love and merrymaking all around. (And venting, and discussion of personal lives, and and and.)

I also have a beta who's a fellow rabbi-type AND YA writer. Who'd have thought?

I consider myself the luckiest writer on the planet, CP-wise. I am not even exaggerating. They keep me going when I want to give up. These women are worth their weights in gold.

Anonymous said...

Excellent. I never considered stalking a fellow blogger, although ... quite a few of them live nearby ...

Cassie Mae said...

I posted a silly little ad on my blog one day describing myself as a critique partner and offered anyone interested in swapping chapters to email me. I can't believe the response I got from it! And they're brilliant and talented and amazing and so supportive, and and and...

Cortney Pearson said...

I found each my CP's through writing conferences/retreats, and they have not only become invaluable critters, but awesome friends!

Angela Cothran said...

I completely agree that becoming friends first is the best. I found my critique partners exactly the same way you did. They are awesome and I don't know what I would do without them.

Angelica R. Jackson said...

I found a couple of my betas through the Absolute Write forum; they had posted and/or commented on the Share Your Work board and sounded like they knew what they were talking about.

Also, when I joined SCBWI, they had a signup sheet for "looking for a group" and I was all over that. We've had a few members that haven't worked out, but our core group works well together and we've become friends. I would say life-long friends, but my life isn't over yet!

Patti said...

My CP is one of my first followers. We hit it off great, but I think it's great to have a few more. I'm also in a monthly in person critique group, which helps a lot.

Jennie Bennett said...

I LOVE my CP's! I found all of them through my local writing group (League of Utah Writers) and they are awesome!!

Leigh Covington said...

My goodness! These are awesome tips! I have 2 friends that are crit partners and I met my PB crit group at WriteOnCon - and another through blogging. It has been great!

Tara Tyler said...

i found an awesome critter! and i joined a great small group with unicorn bell =) i wish i knew people near me. and i hope to get out to a conference in 2012. i'm a toddler, i have to take baby steps when i want to run!

Angela Brown said...

Ladies Who Critique is a great source. The most long-lasting CP's I've had come from people I've met at conferences.

Unknown said...

I found my CPs through blogging and, well, through marriage. Not my marriage... My cousin's. Thank heaven he was smart enough to marry a writer, huh? :D

Lan said...

I love this post! I'm trying to find a proper critique partner at the moment but it's difficult because everybody I know who is as serious as I am and who has the time to critique lives across an ocean. I think I might go and try to stalk some blogs in Melbourne!

Carrie Butler said...

Let's see...

- 1 critter from Absolute Write
- 2 critters from a giveaway-turned-full-critique
- 3 critters from the blogosphere

I lucked out in the CP department. They're all awesome and have no problem kicking my rear into gear, when it's necessary. ;)

Unknown said...

I haven't actually started looking for crit partners yet, but when I do, I hope I'll have as good luck as you.

I tried using some friends for one of my novels (I never finished it, it was just too horrible), and the problem was that they were too nice to me. I couldn't get any proper feedback from them. This time round I'll be looking for people who don't think I'm the next international bestseller!

Krista said...

Four of my critique partners come from my local writers group. And one found me. He say my name on twiter and recognized it because he works with me. So we teamed up.

Iain said...

You are so lucky to have such great friends as Crits.
I'm only just starting to look for my Crits. Writers seem to be a bit thin on the ground in my part of the world.
I think I have one, we'll have to see how it goes.

Laura @ Ladies Who Critique said...

Awww, so happy to see that some people already mentioned Ladies Who Critique in the comments, thanks! :) I designed the site exactly because of all the writers who asked this question, and I hope everyone can find GOOD CPs through it :)

K. Marie Criddle said...

I'll have to say, I agree. I LOOOOOVE my crit partners! (And I'm so glad I stalked you, too!) (Oh, now I sound creepy.) (Ah well, CREEPY CPS FOREVER.)

I think the best part of having good friends as CPs mean that you get to revel in their successes just as much as you get to revel in your own. It's like twice the fun!

Sarah Tokeley said...

Peggy, I've just been catching up with all your posts. I loved reading about how you sold your book - it proves that there's no harm in hoping for the best, even while expecting the worst :-)

I'm not ready for crit partners yet, but I love your advice about being friends first, thank you.

i'm erin. said...

Little do people know that I sat outside your house for years watching your shadows as you walked around (probably in your skibbies). Then when the time came I plotted out how we would become friends...how you would ask me to be your writing buddy, though it was always planned, and then you would come to depend on me reading your chapters so I could say "It's great, no comments this week."

Muah ha ha....little do they know that it was all part of the master plan so one day you could get published and I could be the ultimate NAME-DROPPER!

My, my, how things have worked out.

Laura Pauling said...

I think once we get involved it's pretty easy. I've found mine through Critique Circle, scbwi conferences, blogging. And I wouldn't trade any of them!

Susanna Leonard Hill said...

Mine are all local - a friend, and a friend of hers. and a friend of hers... like links in a chain :)

Peggy Eddleman said...

Cynthia-- Awesome! Thanks so much for the site recommendation!

Kelley-- Another recommendation for Ladies Who Critique! (I'm starting to sense a pattern here.)

Leigh Ann-- I got a little teary-eyed reading that. Wow! Such great ways to find CPs! There's nothing like CPs where there's lots of love and merrymaking. :)

Diva-- I hadn't actually thought of physical stalking, but hey- that might work even better! ;)

Cassie-- That is so. very. awesome! I love that! You clever girl, you.

Cortney-- Ahh. I love finding critters at conferences. I haven't gone on any retreats, but that sounds even better!

Angela-- Becoming friends first really makes all the difference, doesn't it? Especially because then it's easier to tell when pushing will make someone better, and when it might mean breaking. Cuz no one ever wants to break a critique partner. :)

Angelica-- Ah! Absolute Write and SCBWI! Two more great suggestions! I'm an SCBWI member, and actually didn't even know they did that. Thanks for the great info!

Patti-- You're the second person who mentioned one of their first followers! It must be a great way of getting critters. And I love the in-person ones, too. There's nothing like it!

J.A.-- Local writers' groups! Why didn't I think of that? Thanks for sharing!

Leigh-- Friends, Write On Con, blogging. Sounds like three great ways! (Especially the friends one. :))

Tara-- Does Unicorn Bell set up critique groups? I was wondering as I was writing this post. And yes- definitely hard to take baby steps when all you want to do is plow ahead full steam! I hope you get your chance to go to a conference next year.

Angela-- Another recommendation for Ladies Who Critique! So awesome! Conferences are great places, too, because you can get to know the people so well.

Nisa-- Haha! Through marriage! That's a handy way to get critters! Now if we could only find a way to control who family married a little more.... :)

Lan-- One of mine lives across an ocean. I say go for it!

Carrie-- Giveaway turned critique?! That might be one of the coolest stories I've heard! So very awesome! It never even occurred to me that people might get critters that way. I love it!

Imogen-- Hahaha! Yeah... friends are great when you're doubting your skills and need to be talked up. Not so great when you need hard, possibly painful, critiques. :) But definitely great for the talking up.

Krista-- I love your story of your co-worker finding you on twitter! What are the chances? And another recommendation for local writers' groups. Seriously- why did I never think of that one?

Iain-- We really are lucky. I'm glad you found a CP! And I wish you tons of luck finding others- whether they be in your part of the world or another.

Laura-- Ahh! Ladies Who Critique! Thanks for stopping by. We've heard really awesome things about you! It sounds like you have helped a lot of writers find critters. That is so very awesome. You ladies rock.

Marie-- Yes! Creepy CPs Forever! Another perk: you get to read their awesome stuff. And, possibly drool over their WIPs, dying to see their awesome new project and REALLY I MIGHT DIE IF I DON'T GET TO SEE IT SOON. Seriously, die. I'm working on being patient. Patience, Peggy, patience.

Sarah-- Yes! Hoping for the best definitely has to be in there!

Erin-- I actually laughed until I snorted when I read this.

Laura-- Ooo! Critique Circle! Another great recommendation! And I think it's amazing how many people find critters through blogging.

Susanna-- Awww! I love the visual of that! And so nice that they're all local, too. There's nothing like talking book in person!

Anonymous said...

One of my best friends has read the beginning and gave me feedback on the plot letting me know once I was ready she could go through a full critic. I trust her and I know she´ll give me the full monti so I already have one. However, I think I´d like an additional one and once that stage arrives, I think I´ll ask in the forums I regularly interact in and maybe by that time I´ll have make more connections :-) (still quite new to the blogging and forum interacting world but enjoying it. It´s great to meet other writers even if just virtually)

Nancy Thompson said...

My best and favorite CP came to me through a post I made in Nathan Bransford's website forum. If i were look for more now, I'd ask my blogging buddies.

Anonymous said...

I really don't have a critique partner. One of my best friends was into writing too but he is in the military on the other side of the world and emailing him any of the story hasn't worked. I'm just now starting this blogging seriously and I'm not really sure where to go from there. I really want to finish and publish this book that I'm working on but I can't help the fact that I feel like I need a critique buddy but I come up with so many ideas it's very hard for me to sit down and focus. Do you have any advice. I'm feel like I'm kinda on my own about this. I attend a writer's group and all the members are much older than me so there days are busier. I really don't know what to do. But I saw you talking to a class on youtube and what you were saying spoke to me so I had to check out your blog. :)

Anonymous said...

I met my Mom through birth. She is my most harsh CP, but I need the kick in the rear sometimes. My husband is my biggest fan. He's read every single one of my smelly manuscripts (and even the less smelly revisions) and has always wanted more. My bestie, I met through work. I happened to overhear a conversation she was having that she was an aspiring writer. We hit it off right away!