How to Get and Be a Good Critique Partner

What is a Critique Partner?

A Critique Partner (CP) is another writer with whom you share your work, they share theirs, and you each offer critique (or feedback) to the other.

Being and having a good CP is one of the best ways to improve. For one, as a writer, it’s often easier to see your shortcomings in someone else’s manuscript. Additionally, a fresh set of author eyes on yours may point out things you haven’t mastered in your craft, or that you simply overlook because you’re so close to it.

CPs also share resources, support, encouragement, and can empathize with the disappointment and excitement of the writing journey.

How do you find a Critique Partner?

  1. Social Media – Places like Facebook Writing Groups or Twitter hashtags can be a great place to seek a CP. Post a small blurb about your book, that you’re seeking a CP, and see if you get any response.
  2. There are also CP programs such as Critique Match. For a nominal fee per word, you can hire a professional critiquer that will offer you feedback, both in what is working and what may need a second look. You can also match up with another writer that you’ll swap feedback with.
  3. Other – Check out this comprehensive list for 41 Places to Find a Critique Partner.

How to know if a Critique Partner is the right fit?

  1. First, swap only a chapter. If you enjoy the story and believe you’ll be able to help improve it, and they reciprocate, then suggest a first round of feedback. If you find the feedback helpful, consider moving forward.
  2. It helps if you are at similar stages in your writing journey. A new writer and a seasoned one may not be able to give comparable feedback. But two authors at a similar stage in the journey can learn from each other’s strengths and weaknesses.
  3. It’s not necessary to write in the same genre, as long as you each enjoy reading the genre you are critiquing.

How to Format Feedback

  1. Make sure to agree on expectations upfront – do you want to swap a chapter a week? Five pages a day? Is anyone up against a deadline? Are you okay with winging it?
  2. What type of format do you prefer? In-line edits in the document? Big picture feedback in an email? Both?

How to Give Your Critique Partner Feedback

  1. Always point out what you like.
  2. But give honest and kind feedback in areas where you see need for improvement. Also, be specific and offer some examples.
  3. Offer to read revisions. This is where you can really appreciate the support you’re giving your partner—when you see their writing improve.

How to Receive Your Critique Partner’s Feedback

  1. Understand this person is trying to be helpful, and accept their feedback with grace.
  2. Thank them for their feedback. It’s a lot of time and effort to expend that much energy on someone else’s work.
  3. Be understanding if it’s taking longer than the agreed-upon time.
  4. Feedback can be tough. If necessary, take a step back before you implement it. If it ever feels disrespectful or rude, feel free to decline to remain CPs. Even if a CP is offering constructive criticism, it should always feel respectful.

My Experience

I first crossed paths with my amazing CP back in the Fall of 2021. Inspired
to write during the pandemic, she’d just finished her first full Romance and
was well into her second. I was into the tenth year of revising of my YA. Both
of us unpublished. Both of us still emerging writers mastering craft. But both
equally as passionate.

Where her strengths were smart plots and interiority, mine were brevity in
description and dialing back the backstory. I needed her gift to help my
reader get into my character’s head, and she needed mine to help get her
characters out of theirs.

After exchanging first chapters and meeting over Zoom, we knew we wanted to
go the distance together. Since then, she’s written three full Romances and is
on her fourth. And although I’ve still only written one full, she’s given
loving feedback over my addiction to revision. (I have finally started-ish my second.)

We are in touch daily, sharing our writing pitfalls and wins. Between the two
of us, we’ve received more rejections than we can count, and each time help the
other shake it off. We’ve also received full requests and collectively felt
the pride. But more than that, we’ve become friends. We GET it!

Whenever one of us finally signs on that dotted line, and we are both SO
CLOSE, it’ll be a win for us as a team. And you can bet, we will scream each other’s
name from the highest room of the tallest tower. We’ve grown so much together
that I almost feel we could blend our voices and genre into one helluva YA
Romance! Wink, wink!

No writer receives success without the helping hands of others.

Gabrielle Pollack

Published by Amy Nielsen

Amy Nielsen is a former children's librarian of nearly twenty years. She now spends most of her time obsessively pounding on a keyboard. She is the author of It Takes a Village: How to Build a Support System for Your Exceptional Needs Family, Goldilocks and the Three Bears: Understanding Autism Spectrum Disorder. Her upcoming YA Worth it debuts in May of 2024. She is also a freelance writer for The Autism Helper. When she's not writing, she and her family are most likely crusing the waters of Tampa Bay.

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