Every Monday, J and M subject readers to their insight on writing, publishing, and
reading—or just goof off—in chat form on their blog, Fight for Your Write. When asked to
guest post about critique partners, a discussion ensued about how they met, why they trust
each other, and what they think makes for a great writing team.
M: huh. I don’t know
J: I do remember getting all heart-clenchy when I read some of your stuff and wishing I
could do that and I put a call out on twitter for a WC–writing challenge–and you popped up
M: I remember bonding over mixers for drinks
we both felt they were a waste of calories
J: we’ve been together on a lot of things but I don’t remember how we got into the whole critique partner business
M: I think it was during WC chats and sharing “Hey. This chick makes sense. She might know what she’s talking
J: we gradually moved to private chats I wanted you to teach me heart-clenchy
M: and I wanted you to teach me technique
M: haha, yesWe were both able to honestly listen and put aside the defensiveness, be objective about both our
strengths and weaknesses and learn not only from each other, but learn together
J: in addition to some of the best comment bubbles EVER
I can’t decide if my favorite from you is “siiiiiigh” or “JEN!”
M: How about the “just no” comment bubbles we’ve both left
J: oh, that one, too. maybe that’s my favorite. our comments progressed from “I understand what you’re doing here, but it might be better to leave it out” to “delete.” then “just no.”
M: it’s normal to think “she doesn’t know what she’s talking about, I’m amazing and so is
my writing.” but that doesn’t do anyone any good it’s being able to question, to argue a point
J: how would you advise someone to go about finding a great critique partner? We just
kind of fell in each other’s laps
M: I think chat groups are great for meeting other writers and seeing who you fit with
Also going to local writing chapter meetings everyone has different strength and weaknesses.
Find someone who complements and balances. If someone isn’t willing to learn, to listen,
to admit their writing isn’t perfect, move along
M: or someone who takes advantage, who just takes knowledge and advice and never offers anything in return
J: oh, pet peeve
M: asking someone to go over a manuscript is a big deal. lots of time and effort but with someone you like and
trust, you know it’s appreciated and reciprocated
J: and the patience involved on both sides…man
M: Good critique partners are all about support – all different kinds
J: we are more than teachers and students we are shoulders during rejections clasped hands while waiting
and big hugs after acceptance. Plus, we know someone else needs to see a manuscript, too, not just the two of us
a critique partner should never be the last word, no matter how much you trust them
M: we know each other’s work so well, sometimes it’s like reading our own. We overlook things we’re used to seeing sometimes that super-comfort with each other isn’t the best thing
J: and you and I have never had a problem with sharing that understanding makes us even stronger
imagine if I got pissy when you asked someone else to look over a manuscript?
There are partnerships on the verge of imploding for that reason
M: I just can’t imagine I know I catch some things, but miss so many more. How could I be offended if there’s a
chance someone else could help us both learn?
J: so many hands touch our books before they reach the public
M: no manuscript is ever perfect. someone will always find something. I’d rather have a pre-reader at any level point something out than a reader after it’s published *shudder*
J: which still happens, even after so many have touched it the bottom line is, you’re awesome
and no one should settle for less than awesome with their critique partner
M: No, you’re awesome.
J: but I should also point out, in case anyone gets ideas, that you’re taken and one of these days,
you’ll let me sit in your lap
M: maybe we shouldn’t let on how awesome you are I called dibs on you first
J: Aw, we’re hugging
M: A little hugging. no lap sitting, though
You can suffer through more of J and M’s antics at http://fightforyourwrite.com blog
(Facebook) and peruse the interesting and helpful information other people submit.
Jen’s The Kingdom and Side Effects can be found here.