Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Ten Reasons for Having a Critique Group or Partner

“I not only use all the brains I have, but all that I can borrow.” Woodrow Wilson.

If our presidents can form focus groups, have advisors (which is really just a fancy name for a critique group) and interview people from all walks of life BEFORE they make a speech, draw up a new law or make a decision that will affect all of our lives, we writers ought to be able to turn to our own form of advisors. We’re talking about the advantages of having our own critique group or at least a critique partner to help us with our stories.

As we begin the new year we got to thinking about various reasons for having a critique group or partner and the various ways that those others can help us or already help us with our work. We’ve come up with ten very good reasons to either be in a critique community or have a critique partner. If you don’t find any critique partners or group around you, then maybe you want to go out and form your own critique group.

Here is what we’ve come up with:

1 - It’s another pair of eyes that can catch those little pesky problems such as
   bad word choices

2 - They can provide help when you get stuck by
   suggesting new research resources
   sharing their own personal knowledge

3 - Critique partners and groups can provide help in setting and meeting deadlines
   If you meet once a week and so many pages have to done, deadlines will be met
   Knowing you have to write so many pages this week or next can help you set up a workable writing schedule

4 - They are company on your desert writing island
   Writing can be a lonely occupation, and it helps to “share” your words with another writer and not your mate or family
   They can provide a lift when you are feeling down because they better understand your writing “pain”

5 - They can suggest new ideas for your story
   Brainstorming is one of the major values of having a critique group. Others might think of things that you will never have come up with.
   The group or your partner might offer ways of trying alternatives you were uncertain about.

6 - Boost your ego
   A good critique partner can find the good parts of your work and point them out
   As you critique the work of others you will see places where they might have trouble but where you shine or get a glimpse of things that you constantly do right.

7 - Suggest new twists and turns to your story.
   Some critique partners are great at creating new and exciting plot points.
   Others are extremely helpful in giving you ideas for making your characters come alive.
   Other partners might have a special knack for making emotional passages sing and can help you improve that part of your manuscript.

8 - Give you helpful feedback
   Here is where critique groups shine, as they often see the big picture and can “point” the scene on a better path.
   An honest group or partner will point out the weak spots and perhaps give you ideas for fixing them.

9 - Keep you going.
   They can help you through the dreary times when you don’t want to write something new.
   They can point out the reasons your manuscript deserves to be finished and submitted.

10- Share your vision
   Give your encouragement in order for you to reach your goal
   By sharing their own visions they can help you reach for those stars

But there is also a CAVEAT for writers... caveat scribus. Please remember that all critiquers and critique groups are NOT EQUAL.

   Personalities vary.  You will probably need to try several writers and several groups in order to find just the right one
   Level of expertise of the writers can make a difference. It’s always best to have a variety in the group, some beginners and some more advanced.
   Dedication. Be sure your people are truly dedicated to the overall principal that each and every person in the group wants to make whose ever writing they are working on, the very best they can.  No egos are allowed.

If you are already in a group or have a great partner, then rejoice! But if not, then you might want to check out options for finding a partner. Local writing groups often have critique opportunities or look around at your local writing group and ask around and see if there are others who might be in the same boat.

Remember the old Polish proverb as it relates to critique groups.
            “Two (or more) heads are better than one.”

Let’s get off to a great new year in critiquing! If you have ideas for starting a group or other ideas for why you enjoy having a group or partner, please leave a comment. We'd love to hear from you.
Also remember if you have some pages you would like us to critique for the Critique Corner, please email them to


  1. A good critique partner is worth her weight in gold, but sometimes you have to kiss a few frogs (or battle a few demons!)before you find her!

  2. This was an awesome post. Thank you for the input!


  3. Alexa
    You are so right! It can be difficult to find just the right person, but it can be done. We're going to be looking at how to find that right partner in a future blog.

  4. Brandie
    Thanks for the comment. Critique partners and groups can be very important and we always like to discuss the good elements and how to fix the problems that might come up.