Tuesday, November 3, 2009

It Takes a Posse

I have many things I’m grateful for in my everyday life. In my writing life the thing I’m most thankful for is my critique partners. I couldn’t have succeed at writing or been published if it wasn’t for the people that have suffered (many times that is what it was) through critiquing my material.

I’m one of those writers that have to work, and work hard at their craft. Reading my rough drafts can make driving down a dry creek bed in a low slung sports car look easy. After editing my material my critique partners earn their return critique and more. It does lower my guilt factor if I show my appreciation by critiquing their work. It is a give and take.

I need three levels of critique (sad, I know). The first time is when I take my stuff to a critique group I meet with each week. Each person in this group has a niche in writing that they are particularly good at. Their critiques give me a well rounded view of my story. They don’t hesitate to tell me what they think. And I like that.

My second critique partner is someone I send my material to by email. She is great at pointing out places that don’t make sense, telling me to add deeper point of view, or asking what is the motivation here? She always makes me work hard to make my writing better.

My third level is someone who is writing in the line I hope to be published in. This person helps me make sure I’m hitting the alpha male character on the nose, that I have the characters going to a glamorous setting, or making the dialogue work as it should.

Some of these critique partners move up and down the levels as I need help with a story, often looking at it more than once.
You’ve heard it said that it takes a village to raise a child, for me it takes a large critique posse to birth a book.

I’m already working on my list of people to thank when I win the Golden Heart or the Rita (people have to dream). My critique posse is large enough that I may have to put them in alphabetical order in order that no one feels slighted. I promise to share every name if I’m ever given the chance.

The point of this post is no writer is an island. Having critique partners is my number one crafting advice to any writer. If you don’t have a critique partner(s)/posse you need to find one. Let me know. I’ll help you. Or you can join my posse.
The point is: I’m thankful for each and every critique partner I have. THANK YOU. THANK YOU. THANK YOU.

Do you have a posse or a sidekick you critique with?


Carol Burnside said...

If I haven't said so lately, Susan, I LOVE your positive attitude and zest for life. It's reflected in everything you do, your writing included, and that's a good thing.

I've really enjoyed seeing your writing get stronger with every new manuscript you write. I'm guessing I'm that 2nd level that makes you work hard? :-P

Anna Steffl said...

True, true, true.

I'm sure there are those rare souls who can translate every scene, every intention directly from their mind, to the page, and into the reader's head without dropping the ball on any one of the twenty things a writer has to be doing at once.

I guessing when most writers start, they think they're in that rarefied group. I know I did! ROFL! Now, I know I would have saved a few years of agony if I'd had a critique group.

Sandy Elzie said...

I recently had someone say they wished I didn't have a critique partner...I told her that didn't matter, that some had LOTS of partners. My CP and I meet almost every week, to write and to brainstorm. Sometimes all we need is validation that our story is on the right track!

Great post and I agree 100% Get someone(s) to look at your work, find and point out your books weak spots and to encourage you.


Christine said...

I would not be the writer I am today if it weren't for my CPs. I just added another CP into my loop and they are all vital for my writing life.

I have CPs who are near publication, PRO and on their way to PRO. I love reading their work.

All of the CPs in my life bring different elements to the table. And it is a give and take!

Good luck with your writing.

Maxine Davis said...


I love your post. It is so true and tended to shake me and I could hear some voice from above saying, "See, I told you so."

I was just really embarrassed for people to read my work, then suddenly I wanted/needed somebody. Recently, I did have a person critique my work. It was fabulous! There were things I had not noticed, things that didn't make sense, and things that needed to go in or come out. And I had not seen these things!!

Yes, everyone needs a critique group. I am definitely going in that direction!

Linsey Lanier said...

Susan, what a lovely tribute to those who help us out so much. I wouldn't be the writer I am without my beta reader. And Tammy S also gives me a kick in the seat of the pants once in awhile, as well. Her advice has proved to be invaluable.


Debbie Kaufman said...

I owe the state of my writing to several people at this point. First and foremost, my critique partner, Sandy. Next, mae Nunn took me to the next level. Contests judges have been wonderful anonymous cp's at times.
A lot of people contribute to a great piece of writing, and I'm lucky to have that kind of help. Of course, I'll take all the blame for the problems!

Tami Brothers said...

Ohhh, Susan. You are the nicest person. I have never met someone who does as much as you do.

I am someone who believes in Karma. I believe that what you put out in the world, you will eventually get back. With as much as you do for all of us, I can't help but believe you have a huge pot of gold waiting on your side of the rainbow. Sounds corny, but just wait and see.

PF&HTs are definitely blessed to have you on our side...grin...


Susan May said...

Sorry I made no commets to you all yesterday. It was one of those days. I thought about it being my blog day last night in the bath at 11:15. I worked yesterday (Substitute teacher) came home for 10 minutes, pick up a son, and he and I went to the dentist. After the dentist I had 30 minutes to do business in town before my critique group met at 6. Got home at 11:00. Had a headache on top of it all. Ya'll weren't the only thing I forgot.

Darcy Crowder said...

Susan - Like Tami said, it's hard to find anyone who fits as much as you do into a single day, and with a smile on your face no less. :) You are truly an inspiration with your postive attitude and get it done work ethic. Thanks for being a friend. :)

Ana Aragón said...

Susan, great post! I had a paper due on Wednesday and didn't get out of my dark, dank hole until tonight!

People always say that romance writers are the best and I've found that to be so true. They're always willing to give you a helping hand, an honest critique of your story and just be there when you get good...and bad...news.

I've decided I want to be you when I grow up!