This Skeptic Just Turned Avid Fan

Did you miss me? I’ve been in the throes of fresh, uninhibited editing! It’s delicious. My Critique Partner’s manuscript was due today, and we’ve been blazing through chapter after chapter, draft after draft for a week and a half. We’ve fleshed out meaningful descriptions, and we’ve brainstormed for effective ways of foreshadowing and developing more intense relationship interactions. I love, love, lurve working with this writer! And four months ago, I didn’t know her from Eve.

I’ll admit: when I signed up on Ladies Who Critique, I was skeptical. My previous critiquing and beta experiences have rarely included a trade. I thought I’d end up in the same scenario on LWC—which I was okay with. I would be generous, and I would find someone equally generous. But that’s not how the system is meant to work. It’s truly about the give and take of a partnership. I’m such a loner in my craft I couldn’t quite grasp that concept. That might be why finding a Critique Partner took me a few months. I sifted through a ton of writers’ profiles on the site. I contacted a few writers and vice versa, but we were able to tell almost immediately that our tastes weren’t a fit. Then along came this writer, who pores over Celtic folklore like I do and loves to mask a good fairytale archetype with a better setting and higher stakes. I’m so glad she found me!

So what changed me from the one dragging my feet all the way to the game to the one waving that ridiculous “We’re #1!” foam hand? Here are a couple of things I’ve loved about the Critique Partner setup:

Having a Critique Partner spurs my creative momentum. We both have a vested interest, so it’s easier not to get sidetracked working on manuscripts. And it’s like Christmas when I get the notification that there are a new set of her chapters waiting for me.

There’s a sense of fairness when it comes to constructive criticism. Every writer knows that concrit smarts. I mean, who wants to be told something negative about one’s child of script? And telling someone else the flaws in his/her story is so much worse! But that honesty is necessary to correct what’s amiss in the tale. When we are both giving positive and negative feedback—both encouraging the strengths and highlighting what is lacking—it’s easier to take, and to bravely give, that negative stuff.

My CP continues to be thorough about analyzing my characters and their influences. She’s already pointed out inconsistencies in characterization, lack of action during dialogue, wordiness, incoherent mood transitions… She deserves a medal.

And you know what’s amazing? She makes comments after my critiques, like, “This is the kind of feedback I need! Thanks!” It’s so awesome to think I might be helping her as much as she is helping me.

Gushing finished.