After self editing, you’re going to need a second opinion. You want a critique group (or partner) that doesn’t gloss over the truth, but who isn’t harsh just for the sake of being harsh. You need someone to nurture your work and help you grow as a writer. I’ll write more on the technicalities of critique groups and whether you should start one or join an already established group later. Most of you already have a critique group or a critique partner, but here are some qualities to look for:
1) The grammar goddess (or god). As annoying as they may be, this person is essential in helping you become a better writer. You don’t have to always follow grammatical guidelines, but it’s good to know when you’re out of line.
2) The book snob. Whether it’s in your genre or just books in general, you want someone who is well read and knowledgeable. They don’t really have to be a snob, just someone who appreciates good writing.
3) The inconsistency spotter. This person always calls you on your bull; you know, that bit of manuscript you decided to gloss over. This person will tell you when something doesn’t make sense and point out your flaws.
4) The one who gets you. This is essential. You want a critic who gets what you are trying to accomplish and helps you on your way. If someone ever says, “Well, you should write it this way,” or “I would have written…” then run the other way. You need suggestions, not a ghostwriter. This is your story, not theirs.
These can be four different people or all these traits can be rolled into one super fantastic critique guru…but these are things I look for. What characteristics do you look for in a critique partner?
Also, I’ve said it before, but critiques are subjective, ultimately you must decide what you want your manuscript to be and how best to accomplish your writing goals. And guys, try not to be defensive…I know it’s a struggle but once you put aside your pride you’ll be able to determine which suggestions will work for you.
Next time – Your role in a critique group