How to Find an Amazing Critique Partner by Erica Wynters
Today I would like to welcome guest writer, Erica Wynters. Enjoy!
“Never write alone.” I remember the day I came across that quote as I scrambled to find any advice I could on how to be an author. I was in the middle of writing my first novel; something I had stumbled into when I journaled about a dream I had had the night before. I hadn’t set out to become an author, but I unlocked something that day as I started writing, and I knew there was no turning back. Never write alone. It sounded wonderful. I craved a community of writers who understood what it felt like to stay up too late because a story wouldn’t let me sleep, or to agonize over finding the perfect word to capture the essence of a scene. And especially people who understood the special anxiety associated with querying agents or self-publishing. But I had no idea how to find them. That changed when I worked up the courage to tell people in my life that I was writing a novel. A friend of mine connected me with a local author who invited me to the next Desert Rose meeting, a chapter of Romance Writers of America. There I met like-minded people who understood and celebrated the journey I was on. It was through that group that I learned about the concept of critique partners. I listened as authors bandied about the term, mentioning that their critique partner worked overtime to get their manuscript back in time for an agent who was interested or a contest they were entering. Now I had a new goal—find my own critique partner. Finding a good fit with a critique partner felt like a tall order; like walking into the dating world with the knowledge that whoever you “dated” was going to have instance access to your “baby” in the form of your writing. At times, it felt awkward and vulnerable to extend into that relationship with someone knowing that it might not work out in the long run. But through my own process, I’ve discovered five steps that increase the chances of success for both you and your potential partner. After all, a good critique partner can become an invaluable part of your writing success.
1. Go where the writers are. · In order to find a critique partner, you need a “dating pool.” Do research online to find a local writers’ group. You will find both genre specific groups and general groups where you can meet people writing in a variety of genres. · Sometimes meeting other authors in person isn’t possible. Online writing groups become a great option for those who can’t attend writing meetings in person. Social media can also a powerful connector in the writing community. On Twitter, you can connect with other writers as well as professionals in the industry such as agents, editors, and publishers. Instagram has a strong writing community. I have made true friendships through Instagram that benefit me as an author, but also provide connection with people who can understand the trials and triumphs of writing.
2. Pay attention to an author’s writing style. · When you team up with someone as a critique partner it is important that their writing voice be somewhat like yours. I have worked with authors whose writing voices are beautiful but were different enough from mine that we were never able to give each other true help in making our stories the best they could be. I found my critique partner when my local writing group had an evening where members could read five minutes of their current work in progress. As my future critique partner read her selection, I recognized that our voices were a good match. I didn’t know her well at the time, but it was the first inkling I had that she and I might be a good fit.
3. Set up a trial period. · Vetting someone before approaching them to be your critique partner doesn’t guarantee a perfect fit. Exchange a few chapters of your work with one another. Set a deadline of when you will return it. Share expectations of how you would like the other person to be helpful. Afterward, assess how it felt to work on their story, how helpful their critiques were on yours, and how it felt to work with them in general. Be honest. This is often the hardest part, because it can feel like we are rejecting the other person if we don’t wish to continue working together. But honesty up front is important. While having a critique partner can bring your writing to a level you couldn’t have attained on your own, it is also a lot of work. You’ll spend time helping them on their writing, so make sure you can be as excited about their work as you are your own.
4. Set up expectations early. · From the beginning, set up expectations of how your partnership will work. Decide how often you’ll trade work. How long will you have to get it back to the other person? What kind of critiques are you both looking for? Will you ever meet in person or will your relationship be online?
5. Be generous and flexible! · While having a plan and structure is important, it is equally important to hold those structures loosely. If things are going well in your partnership, this will be easy because you’ll be just as excited for your critique partner’s success as your own. There may be times where you have to turn around a critique quickly to help that person out. If you have the time to do it, then do it! It will go far in cementing your bond in this creative journey. Following these steps doesn’t guarantee success. You may have to try out partnerships with a few authors before you find a fit that is mutually beneficial. But don’t give up! A good critique partner has the potential to be your biggest cheerleader, most helpful reader, and a good friend. This is perfectly illustrated in my dedication for my second novella, Mistletoe in the Desert: To Nichole, who makes every word I write better and talks me down from the proverbial ledge. I wouldn’t want to pursue this journey without you.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Erica Wynters started as most authors do - as an avid reader. Cozy mysteries and romantic suspense offered her a combination of great love and great danger kept her turning pages late into the night. Now romance and murder keep her writing late into the night. Her goal is always two-fold: help readers fall in love with love all over again, and take them on an adventure that will keep them on the edge of their seats!
Erica has published three romantic suspense novellas: Death in the Desert, Mistletoe in the Desert, and Hostage in the Desert. This series follows the adventures of Alexandra Briggs, an FBI profiler, who despite having a "desk job" finds herself in danger as she hunts the criminals who will stop at nothing to prevent their capture. Add in navigating her new relationship with Special Agent Henry Collins and it's no wonder, Alex's life often feels like a circus. All three novellas can be found on Amazon and Kindle Unlimited. The fourth and final novella, Hunted in the Desert, will be released August 2020.
Erica Wynters books - Falling in love has never been so fun . . . or so dangerous!
Social Media: www.instagram.com/ericawynters