My original plan was to do P is for Plot, but recent events made me decided to talk about critique partners instead.
Let me tell you how awesome my two crit partners are. I sent them my MS on Saturday -- Got one back on Sunday from Charlene A. Wilson and the other on Monday from J.D. Brown! They stayed up late and did none of their own writing to crit my book. And not just my book either! But the synopsis and query letter too!
I couldn't ask for two better friends and partners in this crazy writing industry. While I've never met either of them in person, they are my best friends and I would bend over backwards to help them when they need it.
It is hard to have my friends also be my crit partners. The best part is, since they want me to succeed, they don't sugar coat the crits or blow smoke up my butt. If anything, they are harder on me than other people would be. Seriously! Also, since we talk to each other everyday, I get a chance to ask them about their crit, clarify a few things, AND they are more than happy to listen to my ideas on how to fix a scene or a paragraph.
I recommend to anyone to find at least one crit partner that you can work with. It's a great experience. I have been in crit groups before, and while I think they are great, it's nothing like working with just one or two people on a personal basis. I know their stories and they know mine inside and out. It's great to say a random scene without much detail and they know the one I'm talking about!
So, finding a good crit partner. That's hard to talk about. I found mine by accident really. I met both ladies at a writing site a while ago and we sort of just talked in the chat room there. Now it seems we are inseperable! LOL
First, I say you should have good chemistry with the person outside of writing. I don't mean you need to be best friends with them or anything like that, but ya know, just you get a good vibe or good feelings when around them.
I would recoomend if you are shopping for a crit partner is to find someone that writes, or at least loves, the same genre you do. Even if you have great chemistry with a person, if they happen to not like the genre you write, having them as your crit partner won't work very well in my opinion. My crit partners and I happen to all write fantasy - different types of fantasy, yes, but all fantasy none the less. And we all love fantasy too. So at least find someone who loves the genre you write, even if they happen to write another one.
Another thing is to see if their writing skills are about the same as yours. I know this sounds harsh but think about it. If someone isn't up to where you are in skills with plot, character development, and even grammer, how fair is it to you? Their crit would fall flat pretty much and you'd be no better. Find a person or people that can teach YOU something too! The best crit partners are the ones that help you improve - not just read your work.
Make sure you make time to crit their work too. I know that sounds obvious but I have to say it. So many times do hear about someone critted one persons work and then never heard from them again. If you want to KEEP your crit partners, then you have to "pay them back" for critting your work too. Now, I know some that do an exact tit-for-tat type of trade when it comes to crits. Jen, Charlene, and I are close enough that I will automatically crit their work because I know that when I need a crit later, they'll be there without hesitation. It all depends on what type of relationship you have with the person. Either way, just make sure you return the favor and help them too!
What do you think? What other qualities should a crit partner have? Do you like crit groups or do you prefer just one or two people as partners?