What Makes A Good Critique Partner?

If you’re a writer of any kind, at some point you’re going to reach a point in your career where you will find yourself in need of a critique or have to give one yourself.

I have been part of intense writing workshops and consistent monthly writer groups for many years. Each experience has had its positives and negatives, but one thing remains true. As writers, we need constructive criticism to grow.

Lately, I have been pondering what makes a good critique partner. What can we do as writers to lift each other up while also giving constructive feedback? I’ve come up with three key points that I try to focus on when giving critiques.

Be Honest

First and foremost, you have to be honest about the work you are reading. Sure, that might sound simple, but sometimes things get in the way of telling the truth.

For many of us, we pair up with our friends as critique partners. This can be complicated. If you happen to come across work that you don’t think is all that good, it can be hard to be honest to a friend. In my experience, I have always made sure to make it clear that I was honest feedback. As previously stated, writers need constructive feedback to grow, therefore, you’re really doing your friend a favor by being honest. If we just sat around stroking each others egos all say, we wouldn’t get very far.

In my personal experience, I will never forget the time I went to a week long workshop. I was 100% torn apart. Did it hurt? Yes. Did it make me grow? More than any other workshop or group I have been a part of.

Be Positive

With that said, don’t feel like you can’t praise each other! I have read work before that was practically perfect in every way and I proudly told them so! For every two things you say that might be a little difficult to swallow, try to throw a positive in the mix. As in most cases, balance is key.

I have been part of groups before when people go in too hard. They ignore positive feedback and find it to be useless. In reality, it’s just as important to give some positive feedback as it is to be honest. We aren’t trying to beat each other into the ground here.

Remember the workshop I mentioned earlier? They had some strict rules about balancing negative feedback with positive. It helped to balance the process. After about three days of adjusting to a real critique environment, I saw the light. Once my group noticed I was trying to improve and letting my ego go, that’s when the real magic started to happen. Which leads me to my next point…

Be Open

All in all, the previous two points don’t mean anything if you aren’t open to it all. I’m not telling you to believe every single critique you get, because there will be times you disagree. The beauty of feedback is you can take what you need. You are still in control of your writing. Try and take the time to be open and to thoughtfully digest your critiques. On the other side, be open and thoughtful when you are giving them too.

We are all in this together. Creative souls unite!

Tell me, what do you think makes a good critique partner? Tweet me your thoughts @AWritersWay. Thank you for joining me here today. You can look for a new post next Thursday.

Until next time,

Christine

Planning, Planning, Planning

Happy 2019! *throws pixie dust* I’m so happy to be back in the steady blogging game! This year, I promise to bring you, what I hope will be, some very entertaining posts.

If you’ve been with me for a while, you’ll know that last month brought the completion of my second draft. (Now, this is my full second draft–there were many half drafts before that!)

If you are stopping by for the first time…here’s a warm chocolate-chip cookie gif…

Welcome! I’ve been working on my current novel for two years now. It is a Young Adult Fantasy novel, and I am very happy to report that I am entering the planning stages of the query process.

The Query Process…where to begin? This isn’t my first rodeo, but it is the first time I am tackling this process in a long time. My last attempt at querying agents was in 2014. Five years later, with a YA Fantasy in hand, I am ready to BEGIN!

So, what does that mean exactly? There are tons of books, websites, hashtags, blog posts, and more to help a writer navigate the complicated world of publishing. However, I always begin with an organizational method. It’s how I operate as a human.

I took a poll on Twitter the other day regarding Query Tracker. I used this method of organization the last time I queried, but I’m still on the fence as to whether or not I want to use it. I think creating a custom spreadsheet might be a better fit for me this time around.

With that, I have purchased the latest addition of Writer’s Market: Guide to Literary Agents. I will spend the next few weeks formulating a list of agents in that book and then hunting them down on social media to ensure that they are open to submissions. As I move forward, no doubt adding more columns to my spreadsheet, I will surely refine my process. Right now, I’m just excited about getting started.

You have to begin somewhere, right? I’m happy to start the New Year off this way.

I wish you tons of luck on your 2019 writing goals! Thanks for joining me here today. Tweet me your thoughts @AWritersWay. You can look for a new post next Thursday.

Until next time,

Christine

have yourself a merry little writing session

Tis the season for hot chocolate, Christmas music, and writing sessions. The past two months have been quite intense as I juggled my day job and a hefty list of writing goals.

However, I am happy to report that I am right on track to finish my second draft this coming Friday! I don’t know about you, but I think the Christmas season kept the pep in my step! That, and a ton of coffee.

After that, my draft will be sent to a few trusted writing partners for critique! All in all, I’m feeling quite positive about the journey ahead. 2019 will be filled with writing pitches, query letters, and hopefully some MAGIC will happen.

I wish you and yours a very Happy Holiday Season! I’ll be back in the New Year with some awesome new blog posts (on a regular blog schedule because ya know…that’s one of my goals for the new year!) See you in 2019!

Revision Adventure Update

At the end of July, I began my Revision Adventure. Since then, it’s been quite an interesting experience. I have to say that when I began this process, I thought that I would get the same kind of feeling I did when I was writing this novel. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve edited and revised projects in the past, but it has been quite some time. I forgot about the complex nature of revising and how in some ways, it is more difficult to navigate. While I thought that I had the right formula to get through an initial revision, I discovered it needed some adjusting.

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I’m happy to report to you today, that I made it through. It took some altering of time based goals and a lot of contemplation about how to make realistic progress at a decent pace. After a period of discouraging thoughts, I turned back to the main source of inspiration for the novel that I began with a year and a half ago. Luckily, that was the ticket. I realized that now it is more important than ever to give myself credit for any bit of progress I make. New goals are okay. The only thing that matters is that I hang on to the passion that I put into this project, keep my characters close to my heart, and move forward!

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Let’s face it folks…revising and editing a novel is hard! I have now reached a headspace where I am enjoying the process once again and in turn getting very excited about how this novel is turning out. It feels good to be here, but at the same time I know I had to go through that tricky period to get where I am today. As writers we are always learning and always growing. It’s a beautiful thing.

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Thanks for joining me here today. Tweet me your thoughts @AWritersWay. Remember, you can join me here every Thursday for new posts!

Until next time,

Christine

5 writing books I love

It’s safe to assume that if you are a writer you are going to purchase books about writing. I don’t think I know a writer that doesn’t have at least one! Sure, some writers may take it a bit too far and stop reading other genre books, but for the most part I think certain books on writing can be a helpful resource to turn to. I do believe that if you really want to strengthen your writing, it’s a good idea to dive into a big pile of books written in the genre of your project. However, there needs to be balance and we just love reading everything anyway, right?

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For today’s post I thought it would be fun to show you five writing books that I absolutely love and give you some reasons why. Take a look!

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Reading Like a Writer 

by Francine Prose

This is a book that I bought many years ago after taking a fiction writing workshop. Since then, I’ve read it a few times. Prose draws on the writing and experience of many familiar authors you may know like Austen, Dickens, and Wolff. It’s a great book to keep on your nightstand or in your purse to flip through from time to time.

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The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide To Character Expression 

by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi

Oh, I can’t say enough about this series of books. Yes, it is a series and there are all types of emotions covered. This is the first one out of the series that I bought and I think that’s why it’s my favorite. You know when you’re writing and you keep using lame adjectives? This is a great book to turn to. Pick a feeling and there are tons of ways to express it right there in front of you.

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First Draft in 30 Days 

by Karen S. Wiesner

Ever tried NaNoWriMo? I guess it was about five years ago when I tried it for the first time. Faced with the task of writing 50,000 words in one month, a friend of mine told me to buy this book. I would describe it as a very helpful, detailed guide on how to write an amazing outline. I remember utilizing parts of the book (which I still use today) and it helped my novel flow.

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What Would Your Character Do? 

by Eric Maisel and Ann Maisel

This is my oldest book on writing for sure. It was one of the first writing books I ever purchased when I was just daydreaming about what it would be like to call myself a writer. What’s so cool about this book is, it forces you to take your characters out of their comfort zone. It has tons of different scenarios to put your characters in, questions to ask, and what it all might mean.

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Writing Fiction: A Guide to Narrative Craft 

by Janet Burroway, Elizabeth Stuckey-French, and Ned Stuckey-French

This is my most expensive and recent writing book purchase. After completing the Frost Place Poetry Seminar workshop, this book was recommended to me based on my interest in novel writing. The reason it was so expensive was because it is technically a textbook that is used in many current MFA programs and I felt compelled to buy a brand new one. So far, I’m not sorry. It’s proven to be worth the money. Sometimes you need to feel like a student again and turning to a textbook forces you to think that way. Each chapter has exercises at the end to reinforce the content you just read. I highly recommend it.

So, there they are…in no particular order…5 writing books I love. You can follow the links attached to each title to grab a copy. I hope that at least one of these books has peaked your interest. What are some of your favorite books on writing?

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Thanks for joining me here today. Tweet me your thoughts @AWritersWay. Remember, you can join me here every Thursday for new posts!

Until next time,

Christine

 

 

 

 

Customizing Camp NaNoWriMo

I’m here to tell you that there’s no better feeling than NaNoWriMo fueled months. I assume most of you probably know about the National Novel Writing Month challenge that takes place every November? The basic gist of it is, you have to write 50,000 words in 30 days. But have you heard of Camp NaNoWriMo?

Camp NaNoWriMo takes place two months out of the year, once in April and once in July. The main difference between NaNoWriMo and Camp NaNoWriMo is that it’s completely customizable. You can choose what kind of project you want to work on: a novel, poetry, a play, etc., and you can also choose between setting a word count goal, page goal, lines, hours, and so on.

Because I find myself in the midst of working on two projects, I’ve decided to set a word count goal with the intention of working on both projects as I have been the past two months. I’ve come up with a very clever title…

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…just kidding. I know “Progress” isn’t all that exciting, but it is the goal!

I’ve gone with a small word count goal of 10,000 words because I will be simultaneously running my second year of “A Dose of Poetry” during the month of April…

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…and I’ll also be working my full time job. I think if I manage to meet this goal I will be beyond thrilled.

Maybe you’re wondering why participating in this type of challenge would be helpful to your writing? If nothing else, the community that comes alive on social media during these times is simply wonderful. It’s a great way to get connected with #amwriting folks all the while making progress with your creative projects!

Okay, who’s with me? Only thirteen days until the fun begins. (Sign up here.) Stock up on coffee! Chat with me on Twitter @AWritersWay.

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Until next time,

Christine