Monday, October 10, 2011

A Little Help From My Friends

 Is it blog chain time again? Why yes it is. And Sarah started us off with this question:

Do you work with critique partners? How did you find your crit pals, and what influence have they had on your work?

To answer the questions briefly and in order, my answers are as follows:

Do you work with critique partners? Hell yes!
How did you find your crit pals? Here and there.
What influence have they had on your work? TONS!!!! Seriously, OMG so much influence.

So what I like about this question is that it doesn't ask about beta readers, but specifically refers to crit partners or pals, which to me implies an ongoing relationship and exchange of work and ideas and support between two (or more) people.

There is just something about exchanging your work with another person. In a lot of ways it is an act of faith. You put the time into not only reading but really thinking and commenting on someone else's work, and hope that on their end they are doing the same thing.

Sometimes it can blow up in your face. I had one truly awful crit exchange experience that to this day makes me shake my head in disgust when I think about it. But I didn't let that one experience stop me from reaching out to other people, and putting my work in their hands and in return putting my time into reading the work they put into mine.

When I was in the beginning stages of writing Another Little Piece, I had that "ooh this is really something" feeling. Of course, who doesn't have that feeling at the start of a new WIP? I was also experimenting a bit and playing with form - switching pronouns, moving around in the timeline, and even adding bits of poetry. It felt like it was working, but I couldn't shake the worry that it might also be a hot mess.

I needed feedback, and I found it at the Absolute Write Water Cooler. I exchanged work with several different people, and found one person whose advice I became addicted to - the amazing Alyson Greene. As I wrote, I sent chunks of my MS to her, and receiving her feedback while I was in the midst of writing was not only motivational, but also incorporating her criticisms as I wrote helped me subtly change course as I went forward, which saved me from having to double-back and fix tons of things later.

But here's the really great thing about the crit partner relationship - you get something out of giving too. Reading someone else's work - you learn from their strengths and you share in their weaknesses. And when your partner tells you that their notes helped make their story stronger - that is just an awesome amazing feeling.

Now let's keep that amazing feeling going. Leave a comment about how much your crit parners mean to you, and then keep following along on the blog chain by checking out Abby's post before mine and Matt's directly after.


  1. The Absolute Water Cooler is a great resource not only to find crit partners, but for everything else writer related. Glad you received such great feedback.

  2. HI! *blushes* Your critique and advice has been invaluable. But I think the best part of being your crit partner is that I got to read an amazing dark and beautiful novel, Another Little Piece. And I am so going to enjoy bragging about it until pub date!


  3. I love the way you describe it as an act of faith. It was oh so very scary at first, but has made such a huge difference in my writing ever since.

  4. Good point there at the end. I've learned SO much from reading and critiquing the work of others. Great post! :)

  5. very true. It's amazing what you can learning about the craft from critting someone else's work. There have been many times when I'll mark something only to realize that my own book has the same problem :)

    Great post!

  6. Nothing has improved my writing more than critiquing others' works. :D great post

  7. I really like that you mentioned that we get something in return from our crit partners: the opportunity to read their work as well.

  8. Hmmm, another great resource I may need to check out. You are right, though I'd argue that often you get more out of it than you give. I know I feel like I learn way more from others than they learn from me LOL.