First, let me start by saying this: Critique partners and Beta Readers are two entirely different things.
A critique partner is someone who will look at your WIP(Work-in-Progress) multiple times. They will provide useful advice on the story, characters, grammar, etc. They will listen as you hash out trouble spots and work with you to make your story the best it can possibly be. They are more like editors.
A beta reader is someone who will only look at your nearly finished manuscript. They will read the story as a reader will and provide information and advice on your nearly finished manuscript. Mostly, they might realize plot holes, loose ends, flat characters, and minor grammar mistakes. They will give it a reader's perspective.
Today, we are discussing Critique Partners/Groups. How do you find them?
Writers are fabulous people. They are always willing to help another writer. They are your most powerful allies because they are in the same boat as you. They know what you are going through.
This being said, they will make your best critique partners. I haven't met a writer, yet, who doesn't love to read. To be able to write, reading is sort of a prerequisite; so not only do they write, but they read. It's the best combination. They know how to tell a story and recognize one. Thus, they make the best critique partners.
I was originally going to do Critiques (crits) as one post. But there is so much information here, so I'm breaking it up into several posts.
How to find a critique partner/group?
How to find a critique partner/group?
- Writers' Group
Aside from the valuable information you can receive in writers' groups, you may find someone to connect with that you can become critique partners. In a facebook group, who I've mentioned before, 10 Minute Novelists, every Tuesday they post a place to pitch your work and other writers can choose to critique it. This is great, especially to not get in a rut with one person or type of work. These people are interested in helping you out. You can help them in return by critiquing theirs.
- Book Club
Book clubs can be more than just connecting with other readers. As I explained earlier, writers are readers. Joining a book club can help you by reading books and hearing straight from readers why things work or don't. Wouldn't they be great to read your novel? Don't sign up just for this purpose. You need to participate for a while. Expect and appreciate their opinions. They'll have plenty. At the very least, if you're afraid of the group as a whole, you may meet someone, who's willing to crit for you. A great way to find a book club is to check your library's schedule or newsletter. I haven't seen a library that doesn't have a book club associated with it. Ask your local bookstores also; they may be able to help. Side Note: Goodreads has online book clubs for every genre. If you are not keen on the face-to-face, this may be more your style. But, REMEMBER you must participate. It's just rude to expect compliance, when you don't give two hoots about them.
There are so many workshops and conferences; it is daunting. It can also be terrifying to go alone. Most cities host some sort of conference (There is even one in my town which is not a big city on any scale), so your first one you won't have to travel far. This is also great because it will be easier to bring a buddy. Some conferences even allow a cheaper rate for tag-a-longs.
You can make some great connections at these conferences, not just with writers, but editors, readers, bloggers, and elusive agents, but more importantly conferences and workshops will give you invaluable writing experiencing. Sign-up for the critiquing session--every conference has one. Even if you don't submit your own for the first time, you'll see how it works and understand that no one is out to hurt your feelings only to make your writing better and stronger. I found one in my city through my newspaper's events calendar. I really don't know an easy way to do this. If you know of one, I'd love to hear it. You can check out ShawGuides' Guide to Writers Conferences & Writing Workshops. I never trust that this has everything because it doesn't have the one in my city and since New Orleans is not a really big city. So, I check conferences I do know of and love to attend and see where this year's is, and I check places I know conferences are usually held in New Orleans, which isn't far from me, but I always miss something. :(
- Social Media
Social media is an easy way to meet people. It could take a while to make a connection though. You have to be patient. Like real life, relationships and trust take time. Sometimes the situation is perfect for both you and someone you meet, and you feel comfortable enough exchanging WIP's, but don't plan on this.
Twitter is the best way for me to meet people. I find it easier to discover new people and chat with them. There are numerous chats to partake in to meet other writers. For instance, Writers of Children's literature have a chat on Tuesday nights at 9EST using the hashtag #kidlitchat. This qualifies anyone who writes Children's, Middle Grade, and Young Adult. New Adult is still a bit in the taboo category of whether to include in adult or children, but they won't be denied I'm sure. On Thursday nights, there are many writers' chats. Starting at 8EST is #StoryDam and at 9EST is #10MinNovelists and #k8chat. Each have there own unique qualities and usually feature great topics with helpful information and of course many people to connect with.
- Critique Websites
For those of us where one-on-one or group interactions are more of a struggle, you can try websites like Scribophile or the Next Big Writer. I use Scribophile occasionally. If this is more your thing, it can be great. At the very least, people are reading your work and helping you make it better than the original. You also have the potential to develop a fan base of critiquers. The only cons I've found are many people are likely to crit only on grammar on novels. For short stories, you do get an assessment of the story as a whole, which is fantastic. For novels, to have someone crit your whole story is harder. You post chapter-by-chapter, but the same people may not crit every chapter, and you are less likely to get any feedback about your story as a whole. So this shouldn't be your only resource, but it can help throughout your journey.
This kind of fits in a few categories, but it's worth mentioning Ladies Who Critique. It's in the process of getting a facelift to include men. This is a place where you may find a partner with similar interests to exchange WIPs. You can also pitch your WIP and let interested people inquire about your work.
In my humble opinion, the best way to find a critique partner is to find one organically. Exchange your work for their work. This isn't by any means the easiest way. It's the hardest. I say this is the best way because it's a friendship that's formed. It's like a co-worker at work. Sometimes you just need someone to vent to, and they understand. Not only that, it's easier to ask questions and explain yourself when something's unclear. They are more likely to help you hash it out with you until it's more clear.
Let me know below ↓ if this helped you find your amazingly awesome crit partner, or how you found yours.
Lots of <3,