Critique Partners

Do you have critique partners?

They’re a funny thing for me. Up until about six months ago…

I’d never had one.

They kind of scared me.


See, I’d gotten used to being judged by my agent, by editors, then by my editor, but not by my peers. Part of me justified by saying I got this far without one, but let me tell you, crit partners are INVALUABLE.

First I should say that my mother is my ultimate reader. No story makes it past our front door and out into the pub world without crossing her desk. She’s incredibly intelligent, and honest, and if others are beta readers, she’s the alpha.

So I didn’t really know if I wanted crit partners, or how to go about getting them, and then one day a good writing friend of mine offered to read NEAR WITCH. I was TERRIFIED, because I didn’t want this person’s opinion of me to decrease if they didn’t like the ms. I feel like our stories are clothes, and people judge other people by how they dress.

But I sucked it up and gave it to her.

And the feedback this person came back with was so thorough! So HELPFUL. I was in shock.


The shock led to the realization of how much better my books would be, and I got braver and extended the circle of critique partners.

Now I have 4-5. All of them are authors at or around the same part in the publishing process. All of them are people I know and trust.


That last part is VERY IMPORTANT. These people are handling material that is private and precious (to me) until it makes its way onto the shelf.

Get to know your crit partners, choose wisely, test the marriage, do everything you need to, because if it’s a good fit, it can be an incredibly fruitful, and hopefully fun, relationship.

Oh, and make sure I have a spectrum of NICE to EVIL. So I have 1-2 who are gentler, and 1-2 who will tear me a new one without fail.

Wherever your crit partners fall on the spectrum of mean, having them is great practice for letting your book out into the real world, and because of them, it will look a lot better when it gets there.

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12 thoughts on “Critique Partners

  1. Anonymous says:

    great post victoria!!
    i know crit partners are invaluable, but im still afraid of them!!
    great advice. so excited for you and your book!!

  2. veschwab says:

    Haha, I was afraid of them the whole time, and still am. But I can now acknowledge how good they are, AND they push me to make my work even better, because the better it is, the less they’ll massacre my poor book :p

  3. jessica_shea says:

    Great post! I’m just starting to exchange my work with other writers (as opposed to real-life friends). It seems like the classes (the Debs, the Tenners, the Elevensies) have been a fantastic way for people to connect–I really hope I’ll be joining your ranks or those of the 2012 debs!

  4. sandy_shin says:

    Thank you for the great post! I don’t have a critique partner and am terrified about setting out trying to find one. But having workshopped in creative writing courses, I definitely agree that having others critique your work makes it so much better. I will definitely beg for critique partners when the time comes and I need one. :]

  5. veschwab says:

    I hope you’ll be joining us too!

  6. veschwab says:

    It can be daunting, but it’s completely worth it, if you find good ones. It’s like with any feedback, you have to weed out what’s useful and what’s not.

  7. jongibbs says:

    Excellent advice!
    Thanks for sharing 🙂

  8. misha_mcg says:

    I love critique. Sadly, I feel like I’ve maxed out the begging I can do with personal acquaintances. So I have a question: how did you (meaning anyone at all who is reading this) FIND a crit partner?

  9. tracy_d74 says:

    great post. i have a wonderful crit partner. she finds all kinds of things that make my story tighter. a reader won’t know the difference, but writers, editors, and agenst will.

  10. veschwab says:

    Since I didn’t find a critique partner until well into the pub process (after my book had sold) I had already established a circle of writing friends at similar points in the process. I had connections to people I felt comfortable sharing my stories with. That being said, I know many writers who solicit a critique partner, whether on blogs, or on Absolute Write, or the Verla Kay Blueboards, and are very happy with the results! And know that sometimes you have to go through a few crit partners to find a good match!

  11. veschwab says:

    And that’s something not everyone realizes. Agents and editors have SUPER POWERS. They see EVERYTHING.

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