As a novelist, you pour your heart and soul into your writing, and it’s natural to want your work to be the best it can be. But no matter how hard you try, it’s tough to get an objective view of your own writing. This is where a critique partner can help. They provide you with the fresh perspective and constructive feedback you need to improve your writing and take your work to the next level. Let’s explore the top six ways having a good critique partner (CP) can help.
Identify plot holes and inconsistencies in your story.
A good CP can point out areas that may need explanation or clarification, helping you to tighten up your plot and create a more cohesive story. For example, they may mention that a character’s motivation for taking an action is unclear, leading you to revisit that aspect of the character’s development. They can also highlight parts of your story that seem to contradict each other, helping you resolve any inconsistencies and create a more seamless narrative.
Offering a fresh perspective
It’s easy to get too close to your own writing and become blind to potential issues. A good CP can offer a fresh perspective, helping you see your work from a different angle and identify areas for improvement. For example, they may point out that a particular scene feels repetitive, even though it may not seem so to you. They can also suggest alternative solutions to problems in your story which you might not have considered. For instance, if you’re struggling to find a way to advance your plot, your critique partner might suggest a plot twist which can take your story in a new direction, or an expanded role for a secondary character that you’ve neglected.
Provide constructive criticism
Your CP will ideally help you identify areas where you may be struggling, whether it’s a particular aspect of character development (you hate feeling sad so you’re avoiding sending trouble your protagonist’s way) or the pacing of your story (you’re not providing enough time for your protagonist to absorb the changed situation). For example, if your CP feels disconnected from a particular character, they can point that out and suggest ways to make them more fully fleshed out. They may point out places where they’re confused or disoriented, prompting you to go back and better ground the reader in the setting,
Improving your writing skills
Every writer struggles with particular areas. It can be dialogue, setting, or pacing. Maybe metaphors are difficult for you. Maybe you write excellent action scenes but when it comes to interiority, you limp along. A strong CP can help you identify areas where you’re weak and give you valuable feedback. For example, if you need to enhance your dialogue skills, they may work with you to make your conversations more natural and engaging. They can point out instances where your dialogue seems forced or stilted and suggest ways to make it more conversational. They may pinpoint examples where your protagonist is delivering too much exposition and suggest how to incorporate that information in a more organic way. Likewise, if you struggle to describe settings, they can challenge you to make your prose more vivid and engaging, adding more detail or bringing in different sensory elements.
Boost your confidence
Receiving positive feedback from a trusted critique partner can do wonders for your confidence as a writer. It can help you see your strengths and give you encouragement to keep writing. For example, if your CP loves a particular scene in your story, you might ask them to explain why it’s effective and what makes it stand out for them. This type of praise can help you feel more confident and give you the motivation you need to keep going. Additionally, your critique partner can provide specific examples of areas where you excel, helping you to focus on your strengths and build on them in your future writing
Having a critique partner can help you stay on track with your writing goals. They can keep you motivated to keep working on your manuscript, even when you don’t feel like it, because they are expecting pages from you on a regular schedule. For example, if your goal is to write a certain number of words each day, it helps to have someone holding your feet to the fire to do this. By providing continuous feedback, they help you stay focused on your goal because someone else is tracking your progress and checking in.
Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a beginning writer, a trusted critique partner can prove invaluable to you in your writing career. So ask again — in your writing circle, on your Facebook pages, at conferences you attend — and see if you can connect with someone who’s willing to work with you. There’s no doubt it can help take your writing to the next level.