Tuesday, October 06, 2009

To Critique Or...

One of the things I've learned about being a writer is that while it is often a very solitary endeavour, this business also has opportunities for great partnerships. There are many different types that I could mention but I want to focus today on the critique relationship.

It's one of life's more tricky and delicate relationships to enter into because both parties must be comfortable and be able to trust one another.

Still, if you can find someone you're willing to take the chance with--sounds like we're gettin' married or something, doesn't it?--I say go for it, because a good partner (or group) to critique your work is worth its weight in publishing contracts.

Having said that, just as valuable to a writer is the benefit we get from critiquing the work of others. It must be done carefully, always being mindful of the hard work and heart that the other person has put into their book, but it's very important to do because it helps us to read a book with a view to editing--but without the need to hold onto every word like we do when it comes to our own work.

Being able to take a red pen to someone else's book (in the nicest, most constructive way possible, of course) should help us to find the courage to look at our own with that same critical eye.

Do you have a good critique partnership with someone? How did you meet?


Shelley Munro said...

A critique partnership is like a marriage, isn't it? I don't have a critique partner at the moment, but have had them over the years. A good critique partner is hard to find. :)

RKCharron said...

Hi JK :)
Thanks for the great post on critiquing.
I have never had a critique partner but I wouldn't mind finding the right one.
I've been to critters (thank you for the link you gave me) but it takes too much time away from my own writing & life to critique the 3-4 writings they want me to do every week. So I've passed on that.
All the best,

Inkygirl said...

Hi JK! Thanks for posting my comic.

I feel pretty lucky to have found the critique group I did (via the SCBWI boards).

And I agree with Shelley above -- in many ways, a critique partnership is like a marriage. :-)

Maggie Robinson w/a Margaret Rowe said...

I think it's important to know what you're good at, too. As a critique partner, I'm great at the "English teacher" stuff, but don't ask me to comment on GMC, because I'm oblivious to it in my own writing, LOL.

J.K. Coi said...

Shelley, it is really hard to find a good critique partner. It took me a long time to do that, but I'm very lucky now to have a few women in my life who I trust with my work.

I think it's important to remember that the critique partnership isn't always about the actual critique, but it's also about whether the goals of you and your partner mesh. Someone who writes every day and is very serious about their work may not be able to work with a another who is writing as a hobby and finds time for it maybe once or twice a week, or when the muse strikes. (That's not to say that either of these approaches is wrong, just different.)

J.K. Coi said...

RKC it's too bad that you haven't been able to find a critique partner yet, but it really is a very difficult thing. The best advice I can give is to join writers' groups (if you haven't already), both online and in person. Once you get to know other writers, you'll know better if you are going to be able to trust each other with your work, and those kinds of opportunities present themselves.

I know you live a little too far to come to the chapter meetings in Toronto, but we have a number of members who live outside of the Toronto area and still enjoy the benefits of the online community, workshops, etc.

If you're interested, let me know and I can give you more information.

J.K. Coi said...

Hi Inky! I found you on Twitter too :) I love your comics and your blog! Thanks for dropping by to visit today

J.K. Coi said...

Maggie my dear, you are AMAZING at the "English Teacher" stuff!

Maria Zannini said...

I have four regular CPs that I found on OWW. http://sff.onlinewritingworkshop.com/

I used to crit heavily on that site but discovered I needed readers who would review the story in its entirety so I formed a private critique circle with the four best reviewers I had met there. Two had dropped out due to life stuff, but two more were brought in who are absolutely brilliant at analysis.

I feel very lucky to have them. They make me better.