Help needed: The writer and the quest for criticism

Over the week-end, I reached 43k in my YA paranormal romance, I blogged, enjoyed the Christmas Market, worked out, tweeted (I am becoming an official addict of Twitter) and cooked. Go, me, go! (*does her own little cheerleading dance while husband rolls eyes*). I decided to take part in Deja Vu Blogfest (more details here) ´cos it sounds like fun 🙂

I also roamed the internet and the wonderful-super-helpful forums (Absolute Write, YAlitchat.org) to learn more about getting crit partners and beta readers. First, I had to come to terms again that writing meant I did have to learn a new language (what the heck is the difference between a crit partner and beta readers?), this post helped me clarify a bit. Basically, a beta reader gives you a full impression (more on the plot/characters than on the hard editing) while a crit partner may tear your draft apart with language/vocab/grammar error. Am I getting this right? Feel free to correct me if I´m wrong. ..

Then, the next question came: when do I actively start looking for either one of those? And here I am at loss. I am not sure if I should already try to dig out my beta-reader(s) or my crit partner(s).

So, now on to you and your knowledge/experience/ideas: when did you start looking for a crit partner/beta reader? Did you even have one? Will you look for one if like me you´re still in the middle of your first draft?

10 thoughts on “Help needed: The writer and the quest for criticism”

  1. Congrats on making it to 43K–impressive!

    And good questions! I think of my crit group as my solid, go-to peeps for reading my stuff. My group is of 4 writers and we take turns critting each other’s pages (about 10 pages or so) a week, usually draft chapters or first-pass revisions of chapters. Then later on, I use betas to look at the whole thing with fresh eyes, because the CG has seen enough that they are as close to it as me.

    It sounds like you are more than ready for some crit partners. Have you checked out Verla’s Blue Board? You might be able to find some critters there. http://www.verlakay.com/boards/index.php

    Good luck, and let me know if you want to swap a beta down the road!

    1. Thanks Kiperoo 🙂
      It is a good feeling to know that I am moving forward with my WIP, sometimes slowly but surely but still…

      Thanks for the link as well and for the offer!

  2. I have a number of critique partners and I would say we all do it differently. Two of them send me their work as they’re writing it. So they write a few chapters, edit it, send it my way, I critique and then they make some changes and keep writing. My other two wait until they have a first draft that they’ve edited a few times. I critique the whole thing and then they make changes.

    Personally, I wait to get mine critiqued until I’m completely done. I find that I’m able to insure that it is completely me that is writing it and I’m not influenced by others.

    But some really want that influence. So I guess it’s just personal preference.

    1. Thanks for sharing your experience Kelley!

      I am thinking I might want to edit at least a bit before sending it out to CPs. (I know for example that I want to change a tad my opening scene, there is way too much “telling” :-)).

      I am sure I´ll find my way, I just need to investigate a tad more…

  3. I don’t really make a distinction between those I ask to critique my work as beta readers or crit partners. I guess I just tell them what I’m looking for feedback on, and let them do their thing.

    The only successful feedback partners I’ve had so far have been people I already know–some writers, some not. I looked on Absolute Write, and found some people, but when I got to know more about them or their writing, i realized it wouldn’t be a good fit.

    I tend to ask people to give feedback when the work is complete, but I’m not sure that’s the smartest path. Some of the issues with my first novel could have been avoided had I asked for feedback earlier.

    The other writers I know seem to run the gamut in when they look for feedback. Some wait till they’re finished, and some want every chapter critiqued.

    I’d be up for exchanging partial manuscripts. I’m only 25k in, so there’d be a bit of a time lag, as I’d like to get about halfway before I get feedback, but as one YA paranormal writer to another, it could be a good fit.

    1. Thanks for sharing your experience Tarah. It´s reassuring to know that everybody finds its own way 🙂

      I might take you up on your offer to swap manuscripts. I think I´d like to edit a tad before I actually do that (would not want you to cringe as you read along :-)) I know I´m intrigued by your story since I read your Tuesday teasers.

      Thank you 🙂

  4. Hi!

    I’m a big fan of cps. They truly can help you with your book and also can become really close friends. I love to critique! So I offer up my services any time I have time, lol.

    I send out a completed ms to my cps, but only a few chapters at a time. (Usually 3) I get their notes and then I implement them into the proceeding chapters and then send them the next 3. This way I don’t feel like they need to repeat themselves. Like one cp told me that a lot of stuff happens in my characters stomach. I was like, omg, she’s totally right! So when I went through the next chapters I needed to send her, I took out all the stomach twisting, stomach falling, stomach jumping, stomach growling…ya you get it. 🙂

    Some of my cps though do send me the entire ms, which is fine cuz it gives me an opportunity to just pull it up whenever I have a free moment and critique a chapter or two.

    Both ways work for me 🙂

    1. Thanks Cassie for sharing (and for some nice tips :-)).

      Your MC and my MC seem to have some traits in common, for mine it´s all in the heart (it´s racing, fluttering, tightening, hurting, breaking….).

  5. “Basically, a beta reader gives you a full impression (more on the plot/characters than on the hard editing) while a crit partner may tear your draft apart with language/vocab/grammar error.”

    I think it’s the other way around, actually. (Although I recommend someone who can help you with both.)

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