January 14, 2016

Finding Critique Partners and Engaging with the Writing Community

I've talked before about why I think collaborative writing and critique partners (CPs) are so important HERE, but I thought it might be helpful to talk about where I found my go-to critique people.

But first, Why You Need Good CPs: Demo #1
A comment from a chapter I wrote this week:

I FREAKING HATE YOU!! I LOVE THE VOICE ALREADY! HOW THE HECK DID YOU DO SO GOOD SO EARLY AND MY FIRST CHAPTERS STILL SUCK BIG FAT HAIRY BALLS!?!?!??! GIVE ME YOUR BRAIN! I WANT TO EAT IT!! (Okay, as rude/creepy as all of that may have been, I’m totally complimenting you here )

I mean, who doesn't need a person in their life saying they want to eat their brain?

That was Sabrina. We'll start with her and talk about good places to meet critique buddies.

1. Websites for Writers: Sabrina and I met on QueryTracker. Yes, the database where you track the queries you send to agents. She contacted me because we both had a full manuscript out with the same agent, requested at about the same time, and she wanted to know if I'd heard anything back. For some reason, she and I hit it off immediately. We started emailing, and then exchanging writing, and now we have a writing group that meets every week.

It was a totally random meeting, but it proves that you can find critique partners anywhere, espeically in places where writes gravitate. Some options to try:
http://absolutewrite.com/ forums
https://www.wattpad.com/
http://www.ladieswhocritique.com/
http://howaboutwecp.tumblr.com/

2. Writing Conferences: Calista left a comment on a blog I write for. I contacted her to thank her for the insightful comment, and we met up at a local writers conference a few weeks later. She happened to be an awesome writer, and she's now part of a group that I meet with every week. I've also met half a dozen other friends at conferences that I'm still in touch with regularly and swap work with from time to time. It's a great place to find motivated people with the same goals you have.

3. Writing Courses: I took a class from Brandon Sanderson several years ago, and there I met Steve. I didn't think Steve was the best writer at the time, but he was so brilliant with plotting, and he was super motivated--he had a goal to write 12 novels in 12 months. I'd never met anyone like him, so I stalked him until he agreed to let me be in his writing group. He has since sold a MG series to Disney, so latch onto people with promise!

4. Networking: Greg, who I met at the same time as Steve, and I didn't stay in touch, but he and Steve did. I remember several conversations talking about Greg's genius writing, and Steve asked him to join us. Greg's great because he writes screenplays and graphic novels and gives a really interesting perspective. So if you know writers, even if you don't click with them, maybe they'll know someone you would click with. Because of a shared connection, Greg's now one of my favorite cps who always gives amazing feedback.

5. Smart Friends: Hannah. She's a friend from college, and her only CP qualifications are that she's really smart and she reads a ton. She's not in the business like my other CPs, but she's been irreplaceable in my writing life. She reads all my stuff and pretends to like it. She finds inconsistencies. She's whip smart about characters and their flaws. And most importantly, she'll text with me for hours about my ideas, and she's honest about what she does and doesn't think works. Everyone should have a Hannah in their life.  

6. Volunteer: Gwen. Just over a year ago I applied to volunteer with an online e-zine. It's been a fun experience in general, but the best part has been the people I've met. Gwen, in particular, has become a fantastic CP. As a published author she has a lot of insights into the business as well as writing craft, and it's been really enjoyable swapping books with her to read and critique. We also started writing a book together, which is a whole new level of fun. So if you can't think of other ways to connect, look for a chance to volunteer with writerly types: reading slush piles, editing, blogging, or whatever they'll let you do.

6. Social Media: I haven't tried this one, but I'm on several local writer groups on Facebook. People are always posting that they're trying to find readers to swap with. Same with Twitter. So if you need a CP, follow some writing groups, follow other writers, look for opportunities to give and ask for feedback. It seems like a great way to meet people.

These are just a few of the ways that I've connected with writer friends, but the opportunities are unlimited. It sometimes takes a while to find people with the same goals that you work well with, but they're out there, and once you find them, never let them go. Because having people who understand the journey and are willing to work with you along the way? There's absolutely nothing more rewarding.

(Here's a link that has some great suggestions as well)

How did you find your CPs? What ways have you found to engage with the writing community?

2 comments:

  1. BIG FAT FRENCH KISS! And Sabrina, save some brains for me. I prefer frontal lobe, rare.

    Also, I don't recommend finding CP's at bars. Never really works out very well for me. XOXOX

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    1. I'm pretty sure you're both overestimating how much brain matter I have to spare! Your bar comment made me laugh--they're definitely not the best place to start! :) Thanks for the comment and the big french kiss!

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