Critique partners

I haven’t done much work on Pawn to D8 this week. I’ve been working on some non-fiction stuff: a report for some biology-related surveys I did last month, and some short-notice revisions for the moth field guide. We sent them the manuscript expecting that the accounts would lay out a certain way, but when they plugged everything in the book was about a third longer than the target (800 pages instead of 600). So we were asked to shorten the accounts where possible and get the manuscript back to them; we had a week’s turnaround for 1500 accounts.

The Opal Magestone is out with (or has been out and come back from) critiquers. I’m waiting to receive all those back before getting started on another round of revisions. This is the first time I’ve had critique partners, and wow. The feedback I’ve been getting back from them has been invaluable. Lots of things that I hadn’t thought of, or hadn’t noticed. And, of course, lots of positive support, too.

Do you remember the first time you walked through your current home? Your first impressions, how it looked to your brand new eyes? It’s hard to call that feeling back up once you’ve lived there a while. After a year or two you look past the flaws and only see the good things. You forget that the patio stones are all uneven and you just think about how pleasant it is to sit in the shade on your patio set. You stop seeing the worn carpet in the living room and only remember the dog curled up at your feet while you and your partner snuggle up for a movie.

A book’s like that. Once you’ve been with it for a while it gets harder to see the flaws. And every house, and every manuscript, has flaws (some houses more than others), though with a lot of elbow grease you can tidy up most of them. Your critique partner is your new eyes, someone who can see the house for what it is without the bias of having lived in it. A good critique partner will of course see past the flaws, like the difference between a buyer who walks through and sees only a worn house, and one who sees potential. And they’ll tell you what renos will help bring out the beauty that hides there.

I found all my current critique partners through Nathan Bransford’s Connect with a Critique Partner forum. I also recently learned about Ladies Who Critique, which is a site dedicated to helping people find partners – like a personals for writers. Haven’t tried it, but it looks like it could be great.

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