Teen Writer Critique Partner Match-Up

As you probably know, critique partners are important. I’d even say they’re vital, and all of the best authors have them, because honestly, a second pair of eyes on your manuscript is key to good writing. Plus, you can always use the support and advice that CPs (critique partners) give each other. You guys hear me talk a lot about getting critique partners to look over your manuscript, or getting them to fine-tune your first page, or your query, or your dreaded synopsis. Because they are so amazing, so helpful and necessary. But the most common question I get back is: How? How do I get critique partners?

Well, my friends, it isn’t easy. The best critique partner is someone who you work well with and learn to trust, whose writing you love and want to keep working with, who’s honest with you and has the same tastes as you. You really have to “get” each other to make a great CP-ship, and in a way, it’s like this awkward, introverted, writer dating thing-a-ma-jig. (I know, I know, what a great metaphor.) Personally, I think the best way to find CPs is through blogging, or through Twitter. That’s how I’ve met most of mine. But even that isn’t always easy. So today I propose a teen writer CP match-up, which I’m lovingly calling “teen CP speed dating.” (Because let’s face it; that’s exactly what this is.) I have no idea how many people will participate, or if this will be successful at all, but I’m hoping it will. And yeah, I’ll be your best friend forever if you participate. *wink*


– Anyone 13-20 participate, whether you’re serious about writing or doing it just for fun. You may mention your exact age in your entry, or you may not. It’s up to you.

– You don’t have to contact anyone about being CPs if you don’t see an entry that looks like a good match, but you have to participate to contact others. If you see someone who you want to talk more with about being critique partners, contact them in whichever way they say you should in the form below (more on that in a minute), and just tell them (briefly) about yourself, why you think they’d be a good fit, maybe go over what your current manuscript is about, etc. and then ask them if they’d like to swap pages. Please keep it courteous, and respect if they don’t want to swap. It isn’t anything personal. Swapping pages–usually about the first five pages–is a good way to see how you work with the other person, whether you like their writing, whether you like their critiquing style, and vice versa. And if you both agree it will work, you have yourself a new CP!

– If you get contacted by a participant and don’t think they’re a good fit, just politely decline their offer. They’ll understand. If you think they’re a good match, give them more details about yourself and your writing and send them your first five pages to critique, and they’ll send yours in return. Please don’t have them read your whole manuscript until you both agree you should be CPs. Tact is always appreciated.

– CPs don’t have to be purely for critiquing either, and you don’t need a finished manuscript to enter. CPs also make great writing buddies, especially with NaNoWriMo coming up.

– (For what it’s worth, I don’t think you should limit your CPs only to teen writers, though, even if this contest is teen-focused. Remember that adults have great opinions about YA too, no matter how old they are, and a range of input is always good.)

– Most importantly, have fun with this!

Entry Form:

Please answer all the questions below as briefly as possible. A few sentences each is good.

Name or pen name:

What you write (i.e. do you write short stories? Full novels? Both?):


Are you serious about getting an agent with your book, or is it just for fun?

Pitch your current book in under three sentences:

Briefly about you and what you like to do/read/write (also include how many books you’ve written):

What you’re looking for in a CP:

Links to blog or twitter (if applicable):


*Note: I know many people don’t like their email addresses published publicly, so if you’d rather not include your email as a means of contact, just ask anyone interested in working with you to comment on your blog (and you can grab their email address from the comment and email them privately), or message you on twitter/facebook/whatever and work it out from there. If you’re fine with having your email in the comment, then include it there, but be sure to space out the “@” and “.com” to avoid spambots. [i.e. TeenRiter(at)gmail(dot)com]

Questions? Comments? Concerns? I’m posting my entry (yes, I’m participating too) in the comment section below to give you an idea of the length and format and such. And just so you know:

All entries most be posted in the comments section below by 11:59 PM EST on October 1st! However, the actual reading entries and contacting participants can go as long as you like.

Thank you! I hope people actually participate in this.

EDIT: To clarify, you can start contacting right away, but you have until Octobeer 1st to put your entry in the comments below.

Twitter Q&A with Literary Agent Pam Van Hylckama Vlieg Recap

Update: 3/30/14

So at the time of originally posting this, TCWT was having its first birthday, and as a part of that I set up a number of events to help celebrate: an agent pitch contest (post is now deleted because people kept trying to enter even years after it ended), a teen writer Chatzy chat, and, back when I ran a weekly #TeenWriters Twitter chat, we did a Q&A with agent Pam van Hylckama Vlieg, who I’d then just started interning for. Although that chat has long since ended, I’m keeping this post up because some of the questions and her responses, albeit short because of the 140 characters limit, are still really relevant.

For more about Pam, see her bio here. She currently works at Foreword Literary.


But before Pam arrived, Kat Zhang, who was then celebrating the release of her YA debut, What’s Left of Me, stopped by to share some wisdom. Here are a couple of her tweets:




And, of course, Pam arrived shortly thereafter. Here are a few highlights:











When asked what the most important aspect of a synopsis is, Pam responded:















(Note: Being a teen writer is still awesome, obviously, but you want to present yourself as a writer, rather than a teen writer. If an agent offers representation, then you should tell them about your age.)


And just because I think this is the perfect way to end the roundup:



TCWT October 2012 Blog Chain


ETA: 3/30/14: *If you’re one of the awesome people who finds these past blog chain posts through search terms, you can go here to find more recent topics and to sign up for a current chain.*


Well, it’s almost October, which means it’s almost November, which means it’s almost time for–you guessed it–NaNoWriMo. That sound you now hear is the entire writing community freaking out.

And to celebrate NaNo drawing so near, I decided that, for this month’s chain, we should all start planning our NaNo novels. That’s why this month’s prompt is:

“What are you writing for NaNoWriMo? Briefly explain how this book idea come about. Then write a mock first page for the novel.”

Even if you’re not doing NaNoWriMo, you’re still welcome to participate; all you need to do is apply the prompt to a new book idea of yours instead. But if you are doing NaNo, be sure to link us to your NaNo profile (if you have one) in the post so we can all connect with each other.

Also, if you plan to change your book idea later on or have two that you’re deciding between or don’t know yet (you can honestly make up a book idea), then that’s also fine. Just pick any random idea to use. This is just a fun exercise; it’s okay if the book changes later on, or if you end up scrapping the first page immediately after the chain ends.

Thanks! Let me know if you have any questions.