This week, I've spoken about critique partners, my two honored guests have spoken their opinions about them and shared a lot of information. Its a difficult call to make. If you're working on deadlines that don't give you a lot of time to really depend upon someone else to catch an error then you've got to learn to do it yourself. A task I'll touch on another time.
For some it's an easy task to critique and edit their own work. We could do it in our sleep. Yet, for others its a massive undertaking that at times can suck the very life out of us. I know, I'm one of those people that doesn't see the things other people see. I look for them, I read and reread, but I don't find them.
That's one of the reasons I'm such a big fan of critique and beta partners. The ones I have I've looked long and hard for, and we work well together. All of us work at the same speed, we communicate openly and honestly and the biggest thing is that we don't flame each other's work.
Now you're thinking 'flame' work. I'm sure you've heard that term, however, for those of you who haven't - its a bad word. Flaming is someone criticising your work in a manner that is best suited to their own private domain. They tear the work apart, call it down, make you feel about a half an inch high and otherwise demean you and your efforts without offering a good, solid critical bit of information.
Each person must of course decide for themselves how they can do it, and what they need. But for those of us who depend and want to get a good critique partner and beta reader, here is a few suggestions for what to look for.
1. Someone who is familiar with the genre you write in. Don't get a critique partner who writes murder/mysteries that has no familiarity with ancient Rome for example.
2. The writing capacity must be similiar. I'm very prolific. I tend to write a chapter a day, edit it and send it away. One of my crit partners does three chapters at a time for me. It takes her a couple of days but the critique is thorough, detailed, and professional.
3. Expectations! I can not stress this enough, when you post for a critique partner be clear in what you expect. Don't just ask for one, and than have someone offer, take 'em up on it, only to find that you're waiting weeks for one chapter and you've got six in the que and a deadline fast approaching.
4. Honesty and Respect. Sounds simple right, it is. Be honest with your crit partner, with yourself, and you'll find someone who can work with you. They aren't working for you, but with you remember that! Respect what they have to say, take it as advice and not as a personal attack upon you or your writing!
5. It goes both ways! Remember this, it's one of the most disasterous mistakes a person can make is to assume that just because you're busy, and taking up another persons time that there's no cost to you. WRONG!!! A rule of thumb is for every chapter that they critique, you critique one back. Your strengths and their weaknesses can be a good solid match. That old addage of "You scratch my back, I'll scratch yours" is very true in this instance.
In closing, I hope this week has been informative and useful to everyone. I realize of course, that some people may not use either of these people, after all a beta reader and editor are very similiar, but for those of us that do, keep in mind. What you give out, is what you'll get back.
See you next time!