Thursday, September 27, 2012

Critique Partners


I love it when I’m wrong. No, really, I do. Because it gives me pause, stretches me, breaks me out of the box where I had locked myself. Most recently, this happened in the area of critique partners.

Like most of us, I’m a busy person. Busy, busy…not just “busy,” you know? I work at least fifty hours a week, before I even sit at the computer to write, or edit. A crit group brought to mind meeting at Marjory’s house with a bowl of macaroni salad and listening to Bernard drone on about his Romantic Fantasy set in the world of prairie dogs. No thanks

I also had this idea:  “Soooo…since I want to find an agent and get published, the best way to do that is talk to other people…who are also without agents and not published. Huh? Besides all that, as noted in an earlier blog post, I only have so much mojo to go around. So why would I want to spend it on suggesting changes to someone else’s work? Shouldn’t I save it for mine?

In a word…No. 

I saw a tweet about a Critique Partner pair up going on at DeanaBarnhart’s Site, so I popped over and decided to drop a profile into the hat. Within a few hours, I paired with two people.  After a few tentative emails and sample writing, we formalized the “relationships” and bam, we were off. Through the same event, I joined the Unborn Writers group.  

Wow. Talk about getting smacked with a dose of man-were-you-wrong. These outstanding women catch things and suggest changes that I didn’t see in any of the novel-wide edits I had made. With their permission I send a chunk to one of them, edit based on her thoughts, then send it off to my other partner and edit further afterward. The difference it has made in my book is nothing short of amazing. The secondary benefit is that I get to read their works. Not only are they good stories, but I learn from their efforts and errors and apply that to my own work.

Is it more work? No. That’s right, it’s less work. Why? Because even if I could find the errors they did, doing so alone would take more time than I spend reading and critiquing their work. But what about the writer’s group? When I joined, I told them about my crit partners. So I have been helping here and there with people’s queries and not posting much of my writing. It’s a great exercise and fun as well.

My conclusion? In the urban dictionary, under the definition of “Win, win,” it should say:  “See: Critique Partners.”

What is your experience? Love them or was it horror beyond imagining?