Recently, I've seen quite a few critique partner threads pop up in some of the Facebook groups I'm in. I've also seen questions pop up like: What is a critique partner? Is a critique partner the same as a beta reader? Where do I find a critique partner? How do I communicate with a critique partner? In today's blog post I'm going to answer all of those questions and more.
What is a critique partner? A fellow writer who you swap manuscripts with to critique each other’s work. You give each other feedback on your writing. Your critique partner will look for potential red flags and mistakes as well as tell you what’s working and what they are enjoying.
Are critique partners and beta readers the same thing? A beta reader is a reader. They give you an idea of how well your book may be received once it's published and look at your book's entertainment value. Critique partners are writers and have the goal of critiquing your manuscript and making sure your plot, characters, and overall novel structure makes sense. The two may overlap from time-to-time, but they generally have different goals.
How do I interact with my critique partner? This depends on you and your critique partner. Some interact via email or by using track changes on Word. Others go a step further and also interact through social media. Still, others may interact over the phone or plan meetups if they live close by.
When do I need a critique partner? This is entirely up to you. Critique partners are useful at all stages of the writing process. Some writers enlist the help of critique partners from the initial first draft or plotting phrase. Others enlist the help of critique partners before the beta reading stage or professional editing stage.
What should I look for in a critique partner? Connection. Is this person serious about finishing their book and in it for the long haul? What are their strengths and weaknesses? Do their strengths and weaknesses compliment you and your book? Do you compliment theirs? Are they reliable? Are they at a similar writing level to you? You want someone you can learn and grow together with.
What if I find someone but they aren't a good fit? Be honest. What is working out? What isn’t working out? Openly communicate this to them and then give them a month. Did the critique partner relationship improve? If so, great! If not, openly, but honestly express to them that the arrangement isn't working out and part ways as friends.
Can I have multiple critique partners? I don't see why not. Different writers have different strengths and weaknesses. However, I wouldn't recommend having more than five. You want to create close intimate partnerships that last your entire writing career.
What advice do you have for someone who is looking for a critique partner? Use social media or Wattpad to find a critique partner. Make good use of hashtags. When you find someone who you think might be a good fit, discuss what your books are about. Swap synopsis or send up to the first three chapters of your novel. Don't be hasty. You may have to go through a couple of critique partners before you find the right one. Be specific about what you’re looking for. Communicate about your schedule. Discuss when and how you'll provide feedback and follow through.
What advice do you have for someone who is considering becoming a critique partner? Becoming a critique partner is a big commitment. It takes a lot of work and a lot of time. Make sure you have the time and energy to put into it. Also, when giving feedback make sure that feedback is honest and given in a timely manner. Be reliable.
I hope this blog post answers any, and all, questions you may have about critique partners. If you have any other questions or additional tips, please leave them in the comments down below!
Note: Looking for more information about critique partners? I recently recorded a podcast episode with T.L. Peterson, a fellow writer, and my critique partner, for her podcast where we went more into detail about our experience as each other's critique partner. To listen on iTunes, click here. To see where else the podcast is available, click here. Also, author Brittany Wang did a YouTube Live in September on this topic. To view that video click here.