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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Twilight Thursday

The Value of a Good Critique Partner
(and a Giveaway!)


Rachel Bramble

While thinking of a topic to talk about today, I drew a complete blank but then received an email from my critique partner giving me feedback on yet another chapter of my current work in progress. She loved parts of it, wasn’t so keen on others and then made a suggestion that gave me the ever-wanted lightbulb moment I knew would strengthen the entire story.

So yes, you’ve guessed it, my chosen topic today is the value and importance of a good critique partner or group – notice I say ‘good’ because if you wind up with a bad partner or group you need to get the hell out of there as quickly as possible without looking back!

I am relatively new to the concept of exchanging chapters for critique and could kick myself for not reaching out sooner. In fact, the book I am here to promote today wasn’t critiqued by anyone and it has only been my latest two books (both with my agent) that have benefited from a second pair of eyes.

The reason for this wasn’t my own ego but rather the three times I had looked for critique partners before ended in disaster for either me or them – it is not an easy relationship to form but it SO worth it if you find the perfect partner. So what are you looking for? Read on…

When you write, you are too close or too critical or even too confident about your own work to view it objectively. A critique partner is not someone who is there to rip your blessed baby to shreds, but rather feed and nurture her so she is ready to go out into the big bad world, strong enough to take the feedback of reviewers and readers alike – come good or bad!

The right partner for you needs to first and foremost understand your work/style/voice – if they don’t ‘get you’ the feedback might be unnecessary negative. You don’t want to be matched with someone who would never buy your type of book in a million years.

You also want a person who is willing to exchange work at the same frequency and amount as you. Achieving this isn’t easy but I am happy to say I have found someone (after one or two misses!) who I hope to work with for years to come. So it is possible.

In my opinion, the minimum you should expect and give when looking for a successful partnership is honesty (not to be confused with brutality), encouragement, belief and yearning for your partner’s success in an often unfeeling industry. We writers need to grow a really tough skin and it’s nice knowing you’ve someone to rely on – whether that be to virtually wipe your tears or slap you on the back.

I wish you all the luck in the world if finding the perfect fit – all together now, three cheers for great critique partners!

I’d love to hear about your experiences – both good and bad…

Rachel’s latest release Paying The Piper is available from Lyrical Press on September 19th – here’s the blurb & buy link:

Nightclub manager Grace Butler is on a mission to buy the pub where her 
mother's ashes are scattered but the owner wants to sell to anyone but her. And that owner happens to be her father...who has a secret she 
will do anything to discover.

Social worker and all around good guy Jimmy Betts needs funds to buy a house 
for three special kids before their care home closes. Time is running out 
and he's desperate for cash. He agrees to to a one-time 'job' for bad-man 
Karl Butler. But in a sudden turn of events, Jimmy finds himself employed by 
Karl's beautiful, funny and incredibly sexy daughter, Grace. Their lives 
couldn't be more different, yet one thread binds them: they're both trying 
to escape the bonds of their fathers. Maybe the only way they'll be free is 
by being together, instead of alone.

                                                                                                       Author_picRachel Brimble.jpg
Rachel is giving away a free download of any of her six novels including Paying The Piper to a random commenter – here is her website and contact addresses to find out which one you would like. Rachel has written everything from romantic suspense, to romantic comedy, contemporary and Victorian historical – enjoy!!

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11 Moonbeams (comments):

Cheryl said...

I couldn't survive without my critique groups. I belong to two now: one focuses solely on children's books and the other is general fiction. Each has its advantages, and I feel I learn so much about my own writing from my groups' feedback.

Thanks for the chance to win. The Arrival of Lily Curtis sounds wonderful.

Wishing you the best,



Literarily Speaking said...

Fantastic post! I have a word of advice, also...make sure you choose your critique partner wisely - someone who doesn't mind telling you like it is!


Rachel Brimble said...


So nice to meet some new people I haven't spoken to before, thank you so much for stopping by and commenting.

I have had good and bad experiences with crit partners but I think I've met the people I'm supposed to be with now which is fantastic. I'd be lost without them!

R x

Cathie Dunn said...

A great post, Rachel, with sound advice.

I've had a few hits (and misses) over the last 8 years. The worst experience was a writer (unpublished in fiction, only in article writing) who tore my first chapter to shreds, being highly convinced of her own superiority - and my ignorance. Fair enough, it wasn't great work but the way she addressed the issues were so condescending it put me off searching for critique partners for years!

But since then this has changed and I've worked with some lovely, supportive and constructively critical writers which has helped my writing a lot.

Sounds like good times of critiquing ahead! :-)

Angela said...

Hey, Rachel! I've found two fantastic critiquers recently as well. What a wonderful coincidence! lol It is really important to find someone you mesh well with, who will give as good as they get. It has to be an equal relationship. I've been in a lopsided partnership before, and I spent tons of time talking about her book, characters, etc, but it never seemed to be my turn. Someone with a good eye to catch inconsistencies and such, who'll give you the honest truth about your ms, praise it, and for whatever reason feels a vested passion in your success; that's what I've wanted, prayed for. I'm crossing my fingers and toes that my new critique partners will be with me for years. I just posted on FB that "I' having a wild love affair with my new critique partners. Shhh... don't tell. My dh would be jealous. Then again, he's gone hunting.... ;)" A great crit partner is truly priceless.

Rachel Brimble said...

Hi Angela! Nothing wrong with loving your crit partners, husband or no husband, lol!

Cathie, you are so so wonderful to me! Thanks for stopping by, lovely x

R x

V.R. Leavitt said...

Oh critique groups are WONDERFUL when they really, really work.

Farrah from The Book Faery Reviews said...

Good tips for critique partners and groups! I hope to one day get involved with on to write my future book.

Rachel Brimble said...

Hi V R & Farrah!

Thanks for stopping by and sharing the cheer for good crit partner - worth their weight in gold!

R x

Margay Leah Justice said...

Well, the Random one has spoken and the the winner of the giveaway is...


Congrats, Cheryl!

Cheryl said...

Awesome! Thanks.