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Saturday, September 15, 2012

Being a Critiquer of Consequence

What do you give your critique partners (Cps)? Besides a ration of grief, I mean. I do't always give high fives unless they really turn a sweet sentence. You know the ones. You read it and your heart catches as you wish you'd come up with it.

This last week, one of my CPs sent me a new synopsis for a new book. I loved it, but one sentence made me stop. I didn't buy the motivation. So I told her maybe she needs to leave that part out of the synopsis.

She replied that it was important. So, now I have an option. Do I tell her it doesn't work or do I let her move ahead with a bland character.

We've been crit buddies for donkey's years, and she's a really good writer. There's no way I'd let her do it. So I told her so. Then as I was typing the email, I began to brainstorm her back story. I came up with a what if and then hit send.

Ten minutes later my phone rang. There she was, excited because it worked. Now, she took that what if, tweaked it a bit more and came up with one dynamite motivation for this character. One that works and is totally believable.

That's when the magic happens with CPs. And she's done the same for me. My 5 Cps are the world's best. And if you're an ACFW member, you'll get to read about them in the next issue. I name them, too.

SO now, what's the best suggestion your critique partner(s) have ever given you?


  1. I love my online historical CPs (I hate that I'm no longer in that group! No time!). But my writing "aha" moment came directly from my agent, who also happens to be an editor. He encouraged me to hone my sentences and eliminate excess dialogue tagging.

    Every crit partner/beta reader helps take your writing to the next level. Esp. if they're honest! And you realize that they want the best for your book, just like you!

  2. Dialogue tags are a good thing to eliminate! :) My CPs and I have our own small group on Yahoo. I also have 3 beta readers. One could be a copy editor, she catches every typo, missed word, and plot hole. She's worth her weight in gold!

  3. I love, love, love my six weekly crit partners. We are family :)

  4. Lori Ann, that's exactly how we feel. Three of us have been together since 2003, and the others since 2005. :)

  5. Recently some members of my writing group suggested that I
    occasionally refer to the appearances of my main characters
    to help readers keep them straight. I'd done some of this,
    but perhaps I should do more. Also, they said for some to have a habit or pet phrase which will distinguish them from the others.


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