Thursday, August 11, 2016

8 How to Find and Be a Great Critique Partner (Plus Critique Partner Match Up Guidelines)

Last week Thursday, we announced our upcoming Critique Partner Match Up, and talked a bit about what being a critique partner entails. This week, I'd like to talk a little about how to ensure you find the right CP for you, and how you can work on being the right CP for someone else.

To recap from my previous post, some of the practical roles a CP fills are those of...
  • an editor

  • a sounding board for ideas

  • a staunch promoter of your work

  • a shoulder to cry on (even if the shoulder and the crying both happen virtually!)

  • someone to celebrate successes with

  • a friend to keep you grounded when the ups and downs of writing life get overwhelming

It can be tough to find someone who will fill all those roles in a way that works for you. There are a number of questions you can ask potential CPs to discern whether or not you'd work well together. For instance...
  • What is your preferred method of communication? Phone, email, text, Google+, semaphore?

  • How do you prefer to give and receive feedback? Straight to the point or plenty of sugar to help the medicine go down?

  • At what point in the writing process do you want CP feedback? As you write? After one draft? After a draft and a round of edits? At what point in the writing process do you want to give CP feedback? 

  • What genre(s) and/or categories do you write in? Do you plan to write in other genres/categories in future?

  • What do you think is a reasonable time frame in which to expect editorial notes on a manuscript to be completed?

  • Are you a cat person or a dog person?

Some of these questions you may not have to ask straight out--you may discover the answer to them organically. For instance, I was introduced to one of my CPs by another CP, and so knew going into our first MS exchange that she was looking for a critique partner who'd offer honest and constructive criticism, but do so in a gentle way.

In order to BE a great CP that other writers want to keep around for as long as possible and enjoy working with, there are some things you'll need to do on your end, and that hopefully your CP love match will do as well!
  • Be honest about your expectations going into a potential CP relationship. Politely let people know what sort of feedback you prefer and what kind of time frames for feedback returns seem reasonable to you. 

  • Be honest and open if a problem arises. If you said you'd have feedback to a CP by the end of the month but had a number of personal issues crop up that mean there's no way you'll get it back by then, let them know as soon as possible. 

  • Be honest if things aren't working out. It's okay to amicably part ways. You're not legally bound to each other in a court of critique partner law (though I have a couple of CPs I would love to ensure stay with me for all eternity).

  • Does it seem like there's an emphasis on honesty and open communication here? That's the most important thing in a CP relationship. The next most important is this: a little bit of kindness makes the world go round. Treat others the way you want them to treat you!

I hope that gives you a bit more of an understanding of what it takes to find and be a great critique partner. Next week Thursday our match up will begin--you'll be able to email your entries for the match up anytime between Thursday the 18th and Sunday the 21st. Instructions as to how to do so will go live first thing in the morning on the 18th, so be sure to check back here next week.

On August 25th, all Critique Partner Match Up entries will appear as individual blog posts on the dedicated Adventures in YA Contests website, found here. I'll create an index post which will be the first thing you see when you visit the contests website on the 25th. From there, you'll be able to quickly navigate to entries that interest you.

Now, listen up, because this part is important!!! If you find a writer you want to exchange chapters with, you will need to comment on their entry, leaving some way of contacting you (website, email address, Twitter handle, etc). For those who submit entries to the Match Up, please be sure to bookmark the post for your entry and to check the comments in case someone's interested in making a CP love connection with you ;)

As aforementioned, instructions for emailing your Critique Partner Match Up entries will be posted the morning of the 18th. It is open to writers of all categories of fiction--Adult, New Adult, Young Adult, and Middle Grade.

That's all for now, and I can't wait to watch some CP soulmates find each other on the 25th!


  1. Will not have Internet access on the 18th. Can you tell me what the deadline would be for entering the match up?

    1. Hi Maria! The submission window for the match up will be open from 18th to the 21st. If you're unable to enter before the 22nd, let me know and we can work out a way for you to enter after the sub window closes.

      ~Laura W.
      AYAP Contest Coordinator

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  4. These are all very important. Without knowing it I found the perfect person for me to do all these things with and it made us best friends outside of our work too. It's a super good guideline.

    1. I'm so glad you enjoyed the post! Thanks so much for commenting!

  5. Well, shoot! I missed the match-up window! Any way to slip in there?


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