~ By Debra Elise
Finding the right critique partner (cp) can be an odyssey, but sometimes you get lucky. For me I’m in the second group. As a newbie writer a few years ago, I was indeed lucky when it came to connecting with a few key people already established in the business. I met the inspiring Rebecca Zanetti (read my blog on that here) and I joined my local RWA chapter where I found a group, small yet mighty, of accomplished women who were at varying stages of their careers. They embraced me from the very first meeting and more importantly shared their knowledge, the ins and outs and the ups and downs of the publishing world.
That very first summer, the chapter held a group critique of our current WIPs. And let me tell you it was the first time in my life I enjoyed someone telling me what I did wrong…LOL. It was constructive, enlightening and empowering. I’d never felt more validated in my choice to become a writer than I did that day.
It didn’t take me long before I found myself clicking with one woman in particular. She’d been traditionally published, but had just recently began self-pubbing. She was warm, funny and I fell in love with her writing and her straight forward approach to critiquing my work.
Now, we aren’t traditional CPs by any means. We don’t swap every chapter we write, or connect daily. But when we need to bounce off ideas, or complain about this or that, we know the other is there. And when we’re ready, we share our work knowing that we can rely on the other to point out the weaknesses without making the other cower under her bedcovers for days. We prop each other up and we believe each other when we say, ‘this is great stuff’ not worrying that the words are being said to soothe an artist’s fragile ego. We provide each other well thought out suggestions which don’t take away from our story or our voice. Instead we’re able to shine a light on items we’ve each gone blind to in our own stories. And that is a mark of a good CP—never mess with the voice!
You may or may not currently have a CP, some authors are more comfortable working on their own and still others with their agents or editors when in the first, second or third draft of their book. However, for me, my critique partner is more than just someone I can call on to read a passage, scan for dropped threads or offer advice. She is someone I can trust to have my back and just as important to call friend.
With my debut book hitting the virtual shelves soon, I am grateful to this woman who took the time, and saved my bacon when I really needed another content edit before I felt the book was ready to publish. Having built a level of trust with her, it was easy for me to set aside the emotions that invariably rise up when someone critiques our work and points out the weak areas. To have someone, another author, who wants me to be the best writer I can be, well that’s worth its weight in five-star reviews.
I truly believe my book would not be what it is without my awesome critique partner, writer and friend, Cathryn Cade. My first sip of celebratory drink on release day will be in her honor.
ps -If you’ve been thinking you might like to have a critique partner and don’t know how to begin, where to find one or maybe you’ve tried in the past and he/she just didn’t click, check out the CRITIQUE PARTNER MATCHING PROGRAM on your myRWA profile.
Debra Elise lives with her husband and their two sons in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. She loves to read, nap, write, watches too much TV, and daydreams how to make her characters come alive for her readers. She also enjoys hanging out with other author-type individuals and teasing her three ‘boys’ into displaying their killer smiles.
Most days find her carpooling, avoiding laundry and spending too much time on Facebook and Twitter, and Pinterest, and Instagram and Tumblr *sigh*. She will soon be starting a self-help group for social media addicts-maybe. Visit Debra at DebraElise.com Her debut sports romance, SAVING MAVERICK, releases April 4th with Bloomsbury Spark.