I cannot stress enough the importance of a critique partner or partners… It’s good practice to find someone in the writing circle. Places like AbsoluteWrite, Maggie Stiefvater’s Critique Match-up and Pub(lishing) Crawl are fantastic places to find like-minded writers prepared to put in the work a Critique Partner is there to provide.
They are there to catch the issues you can’t see. And even if you think you’ll catch everything, I can tell you right now, you are wrong. That might seem a bit harsh, but this is coming from someone who never used to believe in critique partners. A good 100% of the time, you will be way too close to see the glaring issues/plot holes present in your own work. This isn’t something to be ashamed of, even the fantastic, New York Times Bestselling, amazingly awesome author you idolize has this issue.
Example: I finished my last MS, read through, thought it was great (The glow of finishing a story you love is the best), and happily sent it off to my CP to read. Eight nail-biting days later (which is really quick, by the way. I usually expect a month or two turnaround) she sent me back my MS. Comments throughout the document about sentences/ideas that were/were not working and a two page essay at the end stating everything in a summary. As I said before, I thought this MS was in tip-top shape. Obviously not. Imagine if I had sent this off to an agent/editor with all of these issues? ONE FIRST IMPRESSION, and it could’ve been ruined just because I was too close to the story/characters to see the problems.
You don’t have to use your Critique Partner just for your MS. We always exchange our Query letters as well. She tells me what’s working and what’s not. The honesty is something every writer needs. Without it, we can never get better. After all, it takes a lifetime to master the craft of writing. There will always be something new to learn!
Note I said “exchange”. If all the above information wasn’t mind-boggling enough, a Critique Partnership is about give and take. That means if your partner has put in the time and effort to read through your work, you need to be prepared to do the same for them. This is a relationship. One you want to keep for a long time to come. This person will become your sounding board, your biggest critic, your advisor and possibly even your best friend… So, treat them right 😉
And while I’m here, I’d like to thank all of my wonderful CP’s. You’ve all helped me improve and I wouldn’t be where I am without you <3