There have been a few Critique Partners that I’ve exchanged chapters with (usually the first 3), and I’ve done my best to be fair and honest while critiquing their work. I’m always afraid I’ll come off as a jerk or some sort of Nitpickasaurus. Given the evidence, my specific critique style is most definitely NOT for everyone.
I’m ok with that, as long as everyone who lets me see their stuff realizes I’m critiquing the WORK and NOT them. It’s a hard separation to make as a writer, as our work is so much of us laid bare. It’s our time, effort, love/hate/happiness/anger/lust, and a bit of our soul on those pages.
The key, I find, is to always keep the goal of critiquing firmly in mind, both when going over someone else’s work, or reading their notes on your own. That goal is to help the writer become better at the craft, and to help them make that manuscript the absolute awesomest it can possibly be. I’ll throw in the odd bit of “best practices” I’ve picked up from others in an effort to help on some of the pain points. There are some really helpful people out there doing podcasts and articles, etc. I’ll link a few at the bottom of the post.
With that in mind, I try my hardest to give a critique without stepping on a writer’s voice or style. It’s not my business to tell someone what to write, or even how to write. I just try to tell them where what they’ve written doesn’t work for me, isn’t clear, or doesn’t flow well. I may even catch the odd bit of problem grammar or spelling (though not as often as I probably should).
Well, whether I am a jerk, or a Nitpickasaurus, or some other hell-spawn made flesh to torment other writers, I’ve found at least one CP who doesn’t run screaming for holy water at my mark-up notes on their work!
Colten Hibbs, say hello to my thousands (x .001) of blog readers! Colton has a wonderful writing voice and a good sense of character, and I look forward to both of us helping the other develop as writers.
I have a few other CPs lined up for when they’re ready, and I’m really looking forward to seeing their stuff too. I’m still quite nervous about letting others see my work, but that’s part of the deal. I still have an awful lot to learn.
- Write About Dragons Youtube Channel: A fantastic video log of Brandon Sanderson‘s classes at BYU
- Writing Excuses: A ~15 minute/episode podcast all about writing with Brandon Sanderson, Dan Wells, Howard Tayler, and Mary Robinette-Kowal
- I Should be Writing: Mur Lafferty‘s podcast that has launched so many others. It’s the longest running writing podcast for a good reason.
- Dead Robots Society: Funny, informative, rambling, and a little bit blue from time to time, but a good resource for interviews and lengthy discussions on writing topics.
- The Roundtable Podcast: Their “20 Minutes With” sessions are invaluable insight into different Authors and their processes, and their Workshops often give real-world implementations of those processes.
- Wordplay: A wonderful series of videos and transcripts discussing just about every writing topic imaginable
- Nat Russo’s Blog: Where Nat Russo does a great job explaining just about everything.
- The Daily Dahlia: Home of Dahlia Adler and where she shares her endless wisdom.
There are many more out there if you look around (and several other people’s blogs that I follow) that I haven’t listed here.