Will you be my (critique) friend?

A reminder: This post courtesy of Julie Jarnagin’s 101 Blog Post Ideas for Writers.

26. How to find a critique group or partner

This can be harder than it sounds. The problem, I think, is that lots of writers want someone to read and critique their work, but they don’t want to have to do anything in return. It’s not that we’re selfish people by nature or anything, it’s just that we’re very, very busy. How can we concentrate on our own manuscripts when we have to critique this story our crit-partner sent us? And lord forbid we have multiple crit-partners and have to deal with multiple story-swaps. Yikes!

So what seems to happen is that we’ll hunt someone down, we’ll think we’ve established a partnership, but then one or the other will start to slack off. Weeks or months will go by without a critique being passed along so that only one person is benefiting from the relationship, or even worse, both people slack off and no one is benefiting.

This is the reason I joined Critique Circle. It’s an online critique group with a bit of a twist. See, the way they keep everyone honest is that you need points in order to submit some of your own work, and the only way to get points is by critiquing someone’s work. You get 1 point for each critique you write, with additional points if the piece you critique is a particularly long one, and you need 3 points to submit something of your own. Submissions go up in week-long stints and if you want to submit more than one piece in a given week it will cost you 6 points for the additional submission. It actually works quite well. I believe I submitted 3 or 4 chapters of Nowhere to Hide before I took a break to actually, you know…finish the novel, and each of my submissions got 5 or more critiques, most of them very helpful. There will, of course, always be people who write quick and dirty critiques just to get the points, but that is why the site also has a rating system. You can rate and comment on critiques you are given. I’m not entirely clear on what happens with those ratings as I’ve never had to deal with it myself, but overall it’s a very good system that works well. So if you’re looking for a critique partner, you should definitely head on over!

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