Teens Can Write, Too!

Changing the world's opinion… as soon as we finish this math homework

Critique Partners = Superheroes

Hey, guys! My name is Julia and I’m one of the new admins here at TCWT. I can’t tell you how much I look up to John and everyone else on our team, and I’m so excited to be part of this awesome community. (But don’t tell John I said that.)

SPEAKING OF COMMUNITIES (check out them transition skillz), our theme for January is, you guessed it, “Community.”

I wasn’t sure what to write on this topic at first, because there’s so much you can talk about when it comes to community, especially when it comes to writers. (We all know book people are the best.) Then I got revision notes on a novel from a round of critique partners this past week and my brain was like, “BOOM. BLOG POST TOPIC.”

Critique partners rock, you guys. They are the underappreciated backbone of the writing world.

Which isn’t to say that people don’t appreciate them, because I can’t imagine the sort of heartless villain you’d have to be to not appreciate a good critique partner. But they are underappreciated in the sense that it is IMPOSSIBLE TO APPRECIATE THEM ENOUGH.

Here are just a few of the amazing things critique partners do for our stories (and us):

Point out problems we can’t see ourselves.

I don’t know about you, but no matter how many times I go through a novel, I can’t catch all the problems myself. CPs are able to see our writing from an objective perspective that we’ll never be able to have. The number of things my critique partners have caught that I never even thought about on my own is astounding.

Help us think through problems we CAN see ourselves, but can’t figure out how to fix on our own.

Getting a second brain on a problem can be such a help, whether your CP is coming up with ideas for fixes with you, or just listening to your (possibly insane) ramblings while you think “out loud.” (I put “out loud” in quotation marks because, let’s be honest, we’re writers. We’ll probably think via email or IM or even carrier pigeon before we’ll even think about thinking out loud.)

Keep us sane during the long months of waiting.

If there’s one thing the publishing industry likes to do more than publish books, it’s make you wait. Regularly. For long, who-knows-when-this-torture-is-ever-going-to-end stretches of time. Who else but a critique partner is going to keep you distracted while waiting to hear back from a lit agent on that especially promising full manuscript request with endless Harry Potter references and cute baby animal videos?

Remind us our writing is worthwhile.

CPs are there for us through EVERYTHING. They point out strengths in our writing we don’t notice ourselves, help us hold on when letting go becomes tantalizingly easy, and celebrate with us when things go right. (Also threaten very-scary-sounding bodily harm to any who dare reject our Amazing Manuscripts that Are Sure to Be Bestsellers Someday Don’t Even Kid Us—but we don’t talk about that in public, shhh.)

In short: Critique partners really are the backbone of the writing world.

To my CPs: I can’t thank you enough. I don’t know what I did to make you decide to put up with me all these years, but I guarantee I don’t deserve you. You’re all my favorites.

Also, I might need to think “out loud” (*cough* via Skype) with you soon.

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About Julia Byers

I'm a twenty-one-year-old aspiring YA author, college student, and Netflix addict. When I'm not busy being one of those things, I also run Ch1Con, intern for the Elizabeth Kaplan Literary Agency, blog for The Huffington Post, am an admin/writer for Teens Can Write, Too!, shelve books at a used bookshop, and drink arguably too much tea. (I mean, you can argue it. But you'll be wrong.) I completed a remote internship with another lit agent winter 2014 and studied abroad at Oxford summer 2014. I met JK Rowling and lived to tell the tale.

26 comments on “Critique Partners = Superheroes

  1. Sarah Faulkner
    January 5, 2015

    I love this post! CPs are the best, but being one is SO hard. I feel like there is so much pressure. Thanks for the wonderful post, Julia! Excited to get to see more of you around here!

    • Julia Byers
      January 6, 2015

      Being one is the HARDEST! I’m always terrified I’m going to give bad advice or miss something. (But it’s also really, really fun.) Thank YOU, Sarah! 🙂

  2. themagicviolinist
    January 5, 2015

    Awesome gifs. Just sayin’.

    I love my CPs and beta readers. They’re the absolute best. They’re so supportive, honest, helpful, and super nice. They never hesitate to read anything I send their way or cheer me on when I enter contests or query agents. I honestly have no idea what I’d do without them. 🙂

    • Julia Byers
      January 6, 2015

      Thanks! Sounds like you’ve got an awesome group. 🙂

  3. Heather
    January 5, 2015

    I haven’t really used a CP yet (although I just sent out something; we’ll see how well that works out) but I love the idea of getting a good critique. Superhero is the perfect job description. 🙂

    • Julia Byers
      January 6, 2015

      I definitely recommend trying out CPs sometime, just for the sake of having a support community. I don’t know what I’d do without mine. 🙂 Good luck on your sub!

  4. Awesome post, Julia. This year, as soon as I edit one of my WIPs enough that I’m comfortable sharing it with other people, I would like to enter a critique group. I can see how they would be invaluable because they offer fresh eyes. I have some writing friends that are kind of like a support group, but not critique partners yet.

    • Julia Byers
      January 6, 2015

      Sharing with a critique group is a big (scary, fantastic, helpful) step, so congrats in advance!

  5. Precious @ Clockwork Desires
    January 5, 2015

    I have a question. How and where do you find critique partners?

    • Julia Byers
      January 6, 2015

      That varies for everyone! I found most of mine a billion years ago through some teen writing forums, and I went to high school with one. Really, anywhere writers interact is a place you might be able to meet a CP.

      However, there are also sites that host critique partner match ups that can be really useful. Miss Snark’s First Victim has previously put on match ups (www.misssnarksfirstvictim.blogspot.com) and Maggie Stiefvater’s currently hosting one on her blog: http://maggiestiefvater.com/blog/2015-critique-partner-love-connection/

      Good luck!

      • Precious @ Clockwork Desires
        January 6, 2015

        Thanks!

  6. Kira Budge
    January 5, 2015

    STORY TIME! So, Julia is one of my CPs and it is very true what she says about CPs catching things you don’t. For example, in one of my books, I was talking about someone being prostrate in front of Evil McBadGuy, but the word I actually wrote was “prostate.”

    LOL.

  7. Kira Budge
    January 5, 2015

    (Also, I am commenting “prostrate.”)

  8. CPs are like betas, no? I have some set up for a new novel but haven’t actually gotten feedback yet. They are very awesome people though with bookish experience, so I am excited!!!

    • Julia Byers
      January 6, 2015

      Yup! The only real difference is that with CPs, both people involved critique for one another, rather than only one critiquing for the other. That’s so exciting! Good luck.

  9. Alyssa
    January 5, 2015

    Yep, CPs are a godsend. It takes a little time to find the right ones, but then everything becomes so much easier.

  10. erinkenobi2893
    January 7, 2015

    I need to find a critique partner outside of my normal sphere in order to challenge me to try new stuff. I normally write fantasy. Am looking for a critique partner in contemporary, thriller/psychological, and/or action/adventure… Also, I’m thinking of sending my attempts in fantasy to a person who doesn’t normally read fantasy, vice versa with the psychological thriller story. (Also, the Sherlock gif was HILARIOUS! 😀 )

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