If you’re a writer, I can’t stress enough the importance of finding critique partners/beta readers. That’s right, I spoke in plural terms. Each partner might uncover different aspects of your story, such as weaknesses in your character, plot holes, typos, stilted dialogue, pacing and much more. No matter how perfect you think your story is, someone will find an error. And it’s better to find as many errors as possible before you start submitting to agents or publishers, and most importantly BEFORE you self publish!
So where do you find these partners? I found most of mine on Twitter hashtags during writing contests. Someone almost always puts a call out to swap stories for critique. Many times, you gain a permanent partner. There are private writing groups on Facebook that you can join, or places like CPseek. Absolute Write Forums, Write On Con events, local writing groups, and even English departments at your local college and university. Also following blogs of agented writers (such as Brenda Drake or Authoress for starts), can help you find opportunities for free critiques. I’ve found that the writing community is extremely supportive of one another, and among them is a wealth of knowledge!
Things to look for in a partner:
- They not only praise but offer the needed critique. If a partner does nothing but praise over your work, they don’t offer you any room to improve.
- They offer suggestions. Okay, this doesn’t mean they tell you exactly how to fix something, but at least tell you why something doesn’t work for them. This way, you know what direction to go.
- Similar tastes. If you write for middle grade, you may want to find someone who does the same because you both understand ‘voice’ for that genre. Or maybe you write strictly fantasy and want someone who writes the same. But remember, finding someone who writes exactly the same genre and category isn’t completely necessary, as long as they have a passion for the types of stories you write. (But it does help.)
- Can meet your dead line. That’s if you have a dead line. If you do, be clear up front and state the time frame. (Ex: You hope to polish your manuscript before entering an upcoming contest.)
There might be other things you desire in a critique partner, but this list is just a starting foundation. For ideas on the worst critique partners, read Chuck Sambuchino’s The Top 10 Worst Types of Critique Partners
As always, good luck and happy writing!
Writer and blogger of MG/YA Fiction