We’ve been talking about first readers this week at The Debutante Ball. I agree with the other Debs– with Lori that readers make life better, with Natalia that chemistry is important, and Susan that we all need to grow a pair (though my first few reads ever made me cry. I no longer cry, but I still get in a funk for a day or two while all of the changes soak in to my brain). I’d also like to toss into the pot WHERE to find these partners.
Top Places to Find Critique Partners
1. Conferences: Cons are the most perfect place to spread your wings, chickadees. You’re mixing it up with so many great people and they ALL write so swap cards with people who are as serious as you are about your craft. Interview them. No, I’m serious. You want to make sure you’re on the same page as that person. When you return home,swap samples via email. If they are close to your craft level or much better, go for it! You want to be pushed to grow, grow, grow.
2. Twitter: No really, it’s a great place to interact with writers. There are TONS of us on Twitter, all yammering about books and writing. Put out a call for crit partners using the #amwriting hashtag or try a few others like: #pubtip #writetip #write. I found a couple of mine that way and we still swap pages.
3. Writer Forums: I’m not talking the giant critique forums. Those can work, but are often filled with people who do what I call drive-by crits. They swoop in and dump all over your page (or just say “this is pretty good”), and then bail. I’m talking about places like Savvy Authors or Backspace where people are very serious about learning craft and connecting with other writers. Absolutewrite can be a good place to look for them as well.
4. Writing Organizations: There are so many of these, but many regions and/or states have local groups to join. Google writing groups in your area and see what comes up. A few I know of are: CAPA, Grub Street, DFW Writers, Willamette Writers, and Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers. There are also many national organizations like Mystery Writers of America, Historical Novel Society, Romance Writers of America, and so on. The great thing about these groups is many accept other genres as well. As for crits? They ALL have critique boards or groups where you may swap samples.
Did you notice that NONE of these say “in your family” or “in your group of close friends”? Yeah, because you probably know this by now, but that’s a bad idea. You won’t get the feedback you need to grow.
At the end of the day, finding good crit partners is about building relationships with people you trust, otherwise known as networking. So once again, the lonely, solitary writer must venture out and connect if they want to make their books as strong as they can be.