Friday, March 5, 2010

Finding a Critique Buddy

I'm looking forward to a mega-critique/brainstorming day with my writing buddy, Ashlyn Chase. (This is her upcoming release, STRANGE NEIGHBORS, June 2010) We plan to work together all day and then meet up with our DH's to go out to supper tonight.

Just on the surface, you wouldn't think Ash and I could find much common ground. She's a Wiccan and I'm a Christian. I'm conservative and she's a progressive. She loves betas and I'm all about the alpha. Ashlyn writes wacky, sexy paranormals with shape-shifters, vampires, werewolves and witches, oh my! I write historical romance.

But when we get together, it's all about the writing. We catch each other's boo-boos and lend that all important critical eye. We respect each other enough to offer each other our unvarnished opinion (and enough to not take offense if the other ignores it!)

And I think it's good to surround yourself with people who think differently that you do. You get a fresh bead on things. Writing is such a solitary activity. It's refreshing to share with someone who's also making that long solo journey through a manuscript.

Ashlyn's critiques are a serious help to me. But the best part of finding someone to work with is finding a friend.

If you're a writer, do you have a critique partner/group? Readers, do you enjoy a book more if you're involved with a reading group where you can share what you experience?

PS. It's Chatelaine Friday, my usual day to post on that group blog. Hope you'll pop over to join me there too!


Anna Carrasco Bowling said...

I like a good blend of similarities and differences. I have an online critique/brainstorm partner; we've never met in person, but we 'get' each other and that's what matters. I write historical, she writes futuristic. I'm a feeler, she's a thinker. She loves worldbuilding alien whatsihoosles, and I get hopelessly lost without a cheatsheet regarding same. She's very introverted, I am very extroverted. Her writing soundtrack is almost exclusively country; I am currently addicted to Right Said Fred. We are both Christian, but neither of us write inspirational at present. Strange brew, maybe, but it works.

I am also a longstanding member of a group that meets weekly. There are three of us; one writes YA historical fiction, the other blends cozy mystery and romantic suspense into her own concoction. One is agnostic, another is Catholic, I'm non-denominational. We agree to disagree on politics, which is fine, because we're focused on our goals of writing commercial fiction and making careers in same. Again, we get each other and respect each other's voices.

EmilyBryan said...

Sounds like you've got a great line up of writing buddies, Anna.

I had a terrific critique group when I lived in Seattle. The strength of a group is that everyone brings something different to the table. I miss them all so much!

Anonymous said...

Hi Diana,

I know you're just in the next room taking a break, but I had to read what you said about me! LOL.

Thank you for your kind words. I have to say I've benefitted immensly from your input, opinions and experince as well.

An open mind is a beautiful thing.

Viva la differance!

Jane L said...

I have had a really hard time finding a crit partner. I am almost convinced I won't. I keep looking! Someday hopefully the right person or group will come alomg!

librarypat said...

It actually sounds like the perfect mix. You are not competing for the same audience. Since you write in different genre, you can look at each other's work with a very fresh eye.

EmilyBryan said...

Thanks, Anonymous (aka Ashlyn Chase)

Evidently she couldn't convince the blogger gods to let her sign in!

EmilyBryan said...

Jane--Are you a member of a local RWA chapter or other writer's group? That's where Ashlyn and I met. And where I met my critique group in Seattle.

If there's no RWA, you might try your librarian. They would probably know of writers or writer groups in your area.

EmilyBryan said...

Pat--Even if we wrote the same subgenre, I don't think of it as competing for readers. Romance readers are voracious. I've met some who read a book a day! No writer can keep up with that. They need lots of us.

Mary Anne Landers said...

Thankkyou for your post, Emily.

I wish I could find a critique partner, and for a while I tried. Then I realized I'd better forget it.

Sure, I could use one. But it's a two-way street. My criticism of another writer's work would be worthless. It's useful only if the critic is representative of the writer's target readership. I can't even pretend to be representative of any group.

Looks like I'll have to go it alone. But I'm happy for those of you who find good critique partners and benefit from the relationship.

Keep up the good work!

Glynis Peters said...

I have an online writer friend and we run things by each other. We have never met, our backgrounds are very different, but we just click.
She will be the first to read my ms,I was for hers. I know she will be honest. She is an editor too, so that is an added bonus. We are both Brits, so that helps with the proofreading.
I love the difference between you and your partner, how lovely to meet for supper too. I would love to find a flesh and blood one here in Cyprus, then I would have the best of both worlds.

EmilyBryan said...

Mary Ann--I don't think of critique as criticism. I think of it as helpful suggestions. The first rule of writing is: be clear. If my critique partner isn't getting the picture I'm trying to paint, she needs to tell me and I'll figure out a way to express myself more clearly. We catch spelling, grammar mistakes, missing words, etc. We red flag dialogue that doesn't sound quite right. And we praise each other when something's working.

We focus on the nuts and bolts of the writing, not the distinctives of our subgenre.

EmilyBryan said...

Glynis--I had an online critique partner for a number of years, the fabulous Darcy Carson. We still talk on the phone and occasionally exchange work, but not every week anymore. She's still got the critique group we met in and I have Ashlyn here now, so we're getting feedback on our work elsewhere but the friendship remains.

I would not be published without Darcy. She gave me kicks in the pants and kept me writing when I was tempted to give up.

I'm thinking I need to do a post on how to critique. Do you think that would be useful?

Glynis Peters said...

I think it would be very useful, Emily. I have never been involved in formal critiquing. I would like to learn more.