Check out any writer’s Twitter or blog, and you’ll invariable hear them gush about their critique partners. CPs, as they’re colloquially known, are super beneficial to anyone looking to publish. Having several other sets of eyes can elevate your manuscript above where you can on your own.
I have to confess that I’ve always been super envious of people with a couple really great CPs. It didn’t actually occur to me to have them until I began pursuing publication with The Recruited, and I had no idea where to search as a result. Any number of people helped me get The Recruited up to querying standards, but very few–if any–fall under the traditional CP heading.
Two of my creatively-minded friends read through an early draft and gave me excellent notes. A fiction writing teacher I had sophomore year of college–also a member of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop–read the draft in about two weeks and wrote me a four page, single-spaced, double-sided edit letter. Once I stopped panicking, I began conceptualizing her notes and applying the changes. Other late-stage readers included a woman I swapped crits with through the forums on AbsoluteWrite. And though I know this breaks every rule in the book, I did ask my parents for help.
There was only one major issue with all of the people who read my manuscript. Though the help they provided was invaluable, none of them were actual CPs. Most of them were people with their own lives and responsibilities, who I wasn’t really able to call on for later read-throughs. A few people were good for a one-time review, but needed more time to work on their own projects.
I’d begun to feel like someone on a speed-dating game show, where you shuffle through table after table of interested parties, only to find that they’re not quite right.
Then, a month ago, something miraculous happened. A woman I follow on Twitter put out a call for people who’d be interested in forming a critique group. Figuring I had nothing to lose, I threw myself out there one last time. A couple small issues coordinating logistics later, and we have a great, varied group of MG, YA, NA, and occasionally adult fiction writers with great ideas and super editing skills. We have a schedule that everyone does their best to stick to, and for the first time I feel like I might have some people for bouncing ideas off of. Maybe it’s too soon for me to be so optimistic, but I’m really excited to finish reading what these awesome ladies put forth.
What about you guys? For those of you who write, where do you turn for critiques? If you have CPs, how did you find them? Let me know in comments.