Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Value of Critique Partners

Priceless, if you have the right ones.

Critique partners don't just read your manuscripts. They read, love, hate (really!), tear apart, encourage, advise, brainstorm, and are there for you whether you get rejections or acceptances.

  • Example 1:
My first three critique partners were unique in that we all wrote different genres. Two got how I wrote, one didn't. But the one that didn't gave me a piece of advice I've never forgotten.

One of the best of the three in critiquing told me that I should hack away (not in so many words) how I'd started the romance they were reading, and begin the story with the scene from around the second chapter, I think it was.

Wow. I couldn't get my mind around that one. I loved my baby the way I'd created it. There wasn't anything wrong with the way I wrote the beginning chapter. Blah, blah, blah.

So, the CP that didn't always get my type of writing, said, "Put it away. Don't look at it for a few days, weeks, whatever. Give yourself time. Then revisit it and see what you think."

I did. I listened. I cut.

Now I can't understand why I ever thought differently. The story is MUCH stronger because I listened to those CPs' advice.

  • Example 2:
One of the novels I'm working on is an edgy (dealing with strong subjects such as abuse) contemporary. Recently, I got critiques back from three different CPs. On one of them, Mary suggested I build more suspense into the first chapter by lengthening the scene, and then she suggested that my heroine do some of that in the garden.

Now that might not sound like much to you, but to me, working behind the scenes, it was just the thing that worked in my brain. I started to plot and think how I could do it. I was able to go back and rework the chapter, and it worked. Stronger. More intense.

Another of these three, Ro (well, Mary does too. Grin.), reacts violently to my manuscript. She hates, hates, hates the antagonists, and even though the protagonist isn't (right now) in any way an angel, she's rooting for her.

Exactly the reaction this type of novel should draw out of a reader. It's exactly what helps me see I'm on track while writing it.

Tearing apart, advising, brainstorming, and reactions from my critique partners all play a huge part in helping me develop the best novel that I can write.

And, of course, that just means, I'm another step closer to publication.

The ultimate goal for a writer.

The two most engaging powers of an author are to make new things familiar and familiar things new. --Samuel Johnson



Roseanna M. White said...

Well of COURSE I hate, hate, hate your antagonists! How couldn't I? They're despicable. LOL.

You write a powerful story, Carole. I'm really glad to have you for a critter. =)


Caroline said...

Ah, you're such a sweet person!

Break Time!

In Case Anyone is Wondering What's Going on with few posts lately-- I'm taking a short hiatus. Deciding where I want to...