Friday, October 14, 2011

Blog Chain: All the Help I Can Get

Sarah asked...

Do you work with critique partners? How did you find your crit pals, and what influence have they had on your work?

Which is a great question. I've blogged about my critique partners before and how I met them. In fact, when I did a search for keyword "critique" all of these came up:

As you can see, my critique group is pretty important to my writing process. Both they and the online writing community are a big reason I don't just give up writing when life gets busy or the craft gets difficult. 

I had just written my fourth novel when I met Amparo in absolute-write forums. Agent Mandy Hubbard had held a query critique workshop thingy (technical term) and liked my query enough to request pages, even though mine was an MG boy book and you can see from the pink on her website that it's not her usual thing. To polish up my work, I requested help on absolute-write and a few people responded. Amparo was the one who got back to me a) the fastest and b) with the most helpful, thorough feedback. Not only did she point out when something didn't make sense. She also put in her funny little comments, like "Grr!" when somebody was mean to my protag or "LOL" when something made her giggle. After that, I was hooked on exactly her kind of feedback. 

But I didn't really know what it was like to be a critique partner. It wasn't, at the time, a reciprocal deal. Separately, I posted about a partial request I'd gotten on the same book (my so-close-but-not-quite-competitive-for-the-market book) on the query tracker forum. Kristal saw me there and was interested in forming a critique group, one that hopefully wouldn't fizzle out like the last one she'd been in. I didn't respond right away. Like I said, I didn't know what it was to be a critique partner. It sounded like a big deal. 

But eventually, I did write her back and we started the work of forming the group. She invited two people (Kelly and Angela) and I invited the one person I knew (Amparo) who invited someone else (Lindsay). We emailed about a group name and came up with Operation Awesome... which I have to confess I thought was a really silly name at the time. Now I can't imagine it any differently.

When one member got too busy to do the critique end of things, we sifted through a few people's pages to sort of try out different writers, see if they fit with our group. That's how I met Michelle, and also how I ended up part of this blog chain. Without Michelle, I'd have forgotten to do Blog Chain completely! Thanks, Michelle!

Each member of Operation Awesome brings something unique, whether it's an eye for grammar and punctuation, an understanding of what makes literature feel realistic, an affinity for beautiful descriptions, or an ear for authentic teen voice. Sometimes it's tricky having five people's work to critique, especially because we are typical writers, switching up projects like we change clothes. But I can't imagine who I'd do without. I hope we'll be together for a long time.

How did you find your critique partners?

Make sure you also read Cole's post before mine and Michelle H.'s tomorrow.


  1. This was fun to read! I've kind of shifted from a critique group to a couple of critique partners with no set schedule (like you said, we all have different processes). It's gotten easier and more fun for me to critique someone's work when I've read a lot of their stuff :) I can make comments like, "Remember when you did __ in that scene in ___? Do that here! Make us feel that way!" It's cool :)

  2. it's interesting how some on the blog chain love crit groups and others might be more into the individial CPs (although a LOT of them). Whatever works, works.

  3. I joined a community called Critique Circle (, and met some great people there, who have helped me loads.

  4. I found mine at the LDStorymakers conference, but since then I've added a few people who've beta read for me. Love the picture with this post :)

  5. I struggle with knowing how to "be a crit partner". I haven't figured anything out yet either, though someday I hope to. It sounds like you have a good handle on it at this point though (and some great crit partners too).

  6. Okay, not only is that sandwich the perfect photo for this topic, but now it's making me hungry!

  7. Luv the sandwich pic! Good illo! :0)

    I'm in a critique group too. They have been so crucial in my growth as a writer and things are starting to happen for the group too. Lots of publications and representations lately.

    So glad you have great support too! :0)

  8. Sounds like you do have an awesome group!

  9. Hey Katrina! I answered your question on my blog:

    Click here!

    Love ya! ♥

  10. What can I say other than LOVE YOU! :)

  11. I love that you created a name for your crit group. I also love everyone's "how we met" stories. :-)


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