Monday, October 4, 2010

The Search for a Critique Partner

Guest post by Margie Gelbwasser, author of INCONVENIENT, Flux November 2010.

I had a writing group while working on Inconvenient. However, by the time I finished the first draft, we disbanded. Lucky for me, one member of that group—Vinessa—and I became close friends, and she continued to read each subsequent Inconvenient revision. When I was ready to throw up from boredom or was convinced a scene or even the entire manuscript was garbage, she encouraged and read again and again and again, giving me valuable feedback. I was super happy and thankful, but I was greedy too. One crit partner was not enough for me. I wanted another. Maybe even—gasp—a whole writing group!

For a while, I was convinced a critique group was the way to go. A group screamed cozy. We'd get together, read each other's pages, do lunch, have inside jokes. Never mind that my first writing group, while very helpful, was not this romantic. But I was determined.

It felt like dating again—minus the fun parts. I asked writing friends if they knew others who were looking for crit partners. Preferably those who wrote YA too. Contemp YA, to narrow it down further. I posted inquiries on message boards. I even tried to shimmy my way into existing writing groups (just FYI, doing this is as acceptable as trying to break up a married couple). Just like the dating scene, it was getting depressing and tiring.

Then, when I had given up on the group idea, there was Shaun ( He wanted crit partners. I wanted a crit partner. We swapped pages. And, cue fab '80s music, I found my new writing partner!

Turns out, individual writing relationships are more my speed these days. We send pages to each other when we can. We're only responsible for reading one other's person's pages (a godsend when on deadline), and we e-mail ideas back and forth, without worrying that we're hogging the group's time. Shaun and I became good friends too, AND I still have Vinessa. I'm a lucky girl!

Right now, I'm finishing up the first draft of YA #2, currently titled Chicken Carcasses and Other Things That Kill the Mood. That thud you hear is my editor banging his head on the wall. Good thing I have two great crit partners to help me think of a new title.

Find Margie Gelbwasser on Twitter @MargieGelb, and become an Inconvenient Facebook Fan!


Erinn said...

Is there anything better than finding a new crit partner? I think not!


I also LOVE the title but I named my novel How to Pwn nOObz and Become a Rock Star.

J.S. Wood said...

Great post! Thanks for blogging with us.

When I found one of crit partners we had kinda the same story you do. And I was so happy.

Now I have a nice group to work with and don't have to beg for a beta unless I need a new perspective. My crit partners make writing so much easier.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I used to be in a crit group, but it ended for numerous reasons (like careers). I'm in a new crit group (they're friends of mine I met at the LA SCBWI conference this summer), but I'm not submitting anything since I haven't started my new wip yet. I also rely on beta readers for a new perspective. Those individuals usually approach me through my blog, plus I've known them for awhile.

Kay Theodoratus said...

I agree. A good crit partner is worth their weight in gold. They always find the stuff my eyes gloss over.

salarsenッ said...

This post couldn't have come at a better time for me. Are your palms itchy?? Or is that your nose when someone is thinking about you??? Anyhow, you're crit experience sounds so much like mine. Recently--'K, today--I met another writer who wants to be just partners. I think you've helped my over the ledge to at least give it a try. Merci!!

Krista Ashe said...

Gah, couldn't live without my crit partners. I also would have never made it this far, nor would I have the small shreds of sanity left! LOL

Thanks for guest blogging with us!!!

Jennifer Walkup said...

There is nothing quite like a crit partner you click with in that way. Congrats on that. And, call me crazy, but I actually think the new title is cute. I think I'd def pick that up to see what the heck it was about.:)

Akoss said...

I came upon this by researching about how to get a crit partner. Thanks for the post. I can't wait for the day mine will happen to be.