How To Find Critique Partners – Critique Series Part 2
March 7, 2019
So you’ve decided you need a critique partner, but how do you find one? How do you screen for compatibility with potential critique partners? It seems lots of folks know they need a CP, but are at a loss as to how to connect with one. But I think I can help. As a founder of Tall Pines Fiction Writers, I know stuff about this. That’s why I’m excited to share some strategies about finding critique partners in part two of my series on critiquing.
Know What You’re Looking For
The first step to finding critique partners is knowing what you need and want from the partnership. Do you want someone to give your work a basic once over looking for inconsistencies, what doesn’t make sense, what works well? In other words, a 30,000 foot view of the overall work? Or do you need someone to go deeper into craft concepts such as theme, cohesion, style, plotting, outlining, character development, and a line by line critique of your story? Maybe you’re looking for a happy medium between the two. Make a list of what you want to get out of your future critique partnership. Things like, honesty, kindness, someone good with plotting, and someone who’s flexible about submitting might all land on your list. Tailor the list to your writing weaknesses and lifestyle requirements.
Why do you need to think so hard about this? Because it’s important that understand what you need and want so that you can screen potential partners accordingly. Understanding your needs helps set clear expectations, and clear expectations help avoid future problems and disappointment. Screening partners, you say? Yes, I say, and I’ll cover screening and expectation setting in Part 3 of the series.
In Person, Or Online?
Ahhh, the big question, right? Honestly, whatever works best for you and your partner(s) is what’s best. And luckily there are no hard rules. Critique partners can meet in person, trade their work online, or do a combination of both. Personally, I’m a big supporter of in person but either way is fine. What’s most important is that you and your partner(s) mesh well and follow expectations. That said, the first step is meeting people who want to trade work with you.
Established Local Critique Groups
One option is to join a local critique group that’s already established in your area. Many major cities have critique groups that are going strong. In terms of finding them, Twitter is your friend here as well as the local writing scene. Because some have very strict rules and some with a submission process for acceptance, so be sure to do your homework. Ask if you can attend a meeting to observe their process. Try to get a sense of the Group’s vibe before committing. If it feels weird, keep searching for a good fit.
Join a Local Writing Organization
Joining a local writing organization can enrich your writing life in many way. Groups like this often offer a variety of classes and skill-building resources. Membership fees are usually nominal. Writing groups are ideal for networking and finding potential critique partners.
Finding critique partners through a writing organization is ideal because you know these folks are serious about writing and have experience, formal training, talent, or all three. In other words, they aren’t lay people. This may sound harsh, but it’s one thing to help someone improve their already decent writing skills, it’s another to teach someone how to write. Meeting new people this way ensures a certain level of competency in writing and an understanding of what’s needed to be a good critique partner.
Attend a Writing Conferences
Sixty percent of our current membership are folks who joined us after meeting us at a conference. Remember what I just said about folks being serious? People who attend writing conferences are serious about their work and publishing. They follow publishing trends, and understand their genres on a deep level. If you’re looking for critique partners in your genre, attending a writing conference is a good place to network.
Post an ad looking for Critique Partners
My critique group, Tall Pines Fiction Writers, got its start in an unexpected way. I was looking through the employee classifieds at work when I saw an ad for critique partners. I joined and so did four others. What’s funny is that I work for an aerospace engineering company; not exactly the first place I would have expected to see an employee classified ad for creative writers. It taught me there are Creatives looking to connect with other Creatives in the most unexpected places! Here’s some other venues you could try posting an ad or flyer. And don’t forget to always be safe and to take precautions when meeting strangers.
Your day job (if you’re comfortable sharing your work with colleagues)
At the local library
Your favorite coffee shop(s)
At the local bookstores
An online ad (be safe)
Get To Tweeting
Twitter’s greatest purpose for the #WritingCommunity is connecting writers with other writers. If you put out an SOS for a CP on Twitter, I promise you’ll get some love in your DMs. Be sure to screen and evaluate folks you meet online throughly, and you will have to extend a certain level of blind trust and faith. But remember, your prospective partners will be sharing their word babies and ideas with you in confidence, too. And Twitter can be an amazing place. I’ve met some one my best friends and writing collaborators through Twitter. Use the hashtag #WritingCommunity in your tweets and you’ll connect with your fellow writers from all over the globe.
When All Else Fails, Google
Googling “critique partners” will return all sorts of articles and resources for finding critique partners. Again, be safe and try to vet people as much as you can. Here is a good place to start. 40 Online Critique Resources from The Write Life
Next in part three of the series, I’ll talk about screening partners as well as starting a critique group. I’ll cover things like expectation setting, guidelines, and selecting members. Tappity tap that subscribe button so you don’t miss it.