Shakespeare said it best, “get thee to a crit partner.” No? Well, then the internet said it best: “get thee to a crit partner.” Whether you are writing your first or fiftieth novel you need to crit partner (CP). Preferably a team of them – because the more eyes on your book baby, the better. But simply having a CP isn’t good enough, usually. To get the most of your crits you might want to take some of these steps:
1. Define the aim of the crit: Are you looking for a big picture crit that examines potential plot holes, character inconsistencies, opportunities for improvement, etc. or more of a
A line by line (LBL) crit that digs deeeeep into each line looking to correct punctuation, grammar, and language usage. Or what about a Structure crit and evaluates the story structure as a device (beginning, middle, end) and the structure of each chapter. Or some combo of all of those.... It’s best to know what you’re looking for early on. Establish what you need from the crit so your using your CP’s time effectively. Have 3 CP’s? Maybe have each CP read with a different goal. Remember, your CP’s may have different strengths than you – use their strengths to compliment your own. And always, always, be respectful of their time.
2. Break your crit up into manageable pieces: One CP I've worked with had a great system for this. She broke her MS into chunks of 3-5 chapters and sent them to her CP's with deadline 'goals' for having them returned. That way, she could work on revisions her CP’s suggested in chunks while her CP’s were busy reading the next few chapters. Also, it’s way less overwhelming to work on changes/suggestions to 3 chapters than 30.
3. Don’t forget your query letter and synopsis: If you plan to start down the long, and winding road of querying be sure your CP’s have had a pass at your letter and synopsis. The query letter is so critical because it’s the only thing the Agent is guaranteed to read. If you can’t hook them with the query then they may never read your sample pages or synopsis.
Defining your strategy and goals can help ensure your crits are laser focused and productive. Need more on getting the most out of your CP relationships? Try these posts – list posts.
How do you approach a crit?
Want more about CP's:
SC Write - Handling A Tough Crit
Secret Life of Writers - The Secrets of and Awesome CP Relationship
Ladies Who Critique - CP 101