The Joy of Having Awesome Critique Partners

First off, an extended Happy Mother’s Day to all you moms out there. I hope you got the pampering you deserve!

We’re 12 days into May and I thought I’d give you some updates on my writing life.

Yes, I’m still writing, though it may seem like I hardly ever do.  😉

This March, I finished the fifth and final draft of my YA novel. It took me 4 drafts to get the plot exactly the way I wanted, and a final draft to polish all the details.

My middle grade novel is proving to be more of a challenge. I think it’s because this MG novel is the first book I ever wrote. First books usually just serve as a testing ground for novel writing abilities, but I stubbornly refused to think of mine that way. The more I learn about writing, the more I find ways to fix the story. The plot evolves with every rewrite and sometimes I wonder if it will ever reach its final draft.

I’m now working on the 11th draft of my MG novel and I feel like I’m getting closer to getting the story the way it should be.  And I wouldn’t have gotten to this point if it weren’t for my awesome critique partners.

The first 9 drafts of URTH were all written without much critiquing. I would bring a chapters to a few critique sessions and retreats here and there, but for the most part, I kept on tweaking the plot without any consistent help from my critique partners.

When I finished my 10th draft, I finally asked my crit partners for help. Cassie, one of my wonderful critique partners would read each chapter as I finished it and give her critique, and I’d do the same for her. Last April, she actually spent a whole day finishing the rest of my MG manuscript and helping me re-work the plot for the next draft. The massive brainstorming session helped me re-haul my plot outline and I finally dove into the next rewrite.

Now that I’m working on my 11th draft, two other awesome critique partners have come to my aid. Jenn, Tiffani and I have been part of a critique group for the past three years. We would try to meet once a month to do critiques and brainstorm. But because of our busy schedules, there were months were we wouldn’t be able to meet at all.

This month we revived our group by starting a whole new online exchange, instead of trying for monthly face to face meetings.

And it’s been working wonderfully so far. We send each other whatever chapters we finished and wait for the others’ critiques. We’ve all been so good about getting our critiques out as speedily as possible and it has helped us all keep on track with our writing goals. The fact that I enjoy reading their stories also helps because I can’t wait to dig in each time they send me a new chapter.

Jenn and Tiffani are great motivators for me. Their speedy critiques inspire me to work on my manuscript every day. And because I love their stories, critiquing their manuscripts doesn’t feel like work at all.

Without Cassie, Jenn, and Tiffani, I don’t know how else I could whip my MG novel into shape. They are the people who encourage me when I’m down, inspire me to keep on writing every day, and suggest great ways to fix what I feel are “un-fixable” in my work. I feel incredibly lucky and very blessed to have these awesome writers as critique partners.

Who are the awesome critique partners in your life? How do they help you as a writer?

 

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3 Responses to “The Joy of Having Awesome Critique Partners”

  1. Don’t give up on that first story! Trust me.
    Rusty is my most trusted critique partner. I run my outlines past him. Cassie also did wonders for my third book. And they are both hilarious!

  2. Lucy Ravitch says:

    I’m so glad your group is working for you. I had one for two and a half years until it fizzled. Thou just reminded me I need to get another group. Good luck with your first book (I always liked it).

  3. Congrats, Nutschell, on your YA. With my first novel, (after 10 years) I had so much time invested and I reached a point of no return. As you mentioned, during those years I honed my craft, so naturally applied everything I learned into the book. Last year, I self pubbed and I’m telling you, it feels great to put something out there that you know you poured your whole heart and soul into. You’ll get your MG done. As far as critiques go, I’ve been fortunate to be part of a talented group of writers at, “Books Born Here, in Riverside, CA.” I founded the group about 11 years ago. Recently, I started an online group called, “The Magnificent Five.” We submit our work every Monday. And yes, an online group can be a great motivator to get the job done. My critique peeps definitely keep this author on her toes! Best wishes with your writing and all of the wonderful thing you do for the writing community! :-)

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