I've been blessed with awesome Critique Partners (CP). My first writing buddy lived on the other side of the country. We were paired-up through a CP service at From the Heart Romance Writers. Kind of like match dot com for writers. Our relationship flourished as emails zipped back and forth. She was so much help. I will always have a deep fondness for this talented lady. Then she became ill and for a long while could not do much online. Even so, we kept in touch via emails and facebook posts--and still do.
Meanwhile, I kept on writing without my second pair of eyes, my writing conscience. I missed my CP's warm wit, her goofy, snarky remarks and her blasting my "odd use of commas." Hey, what can I say...if I want my reader to stop and take a breath, I put in a comma. Lawd, I love a good comma.
Recently another writer and I were approached by an author in England. Did we want to be CP's with her? Did I???? I nearly broke a nail clicking on the REPLY icon. I was thrilled.
The three of us are a great match. Although I feel I take more than I give, especially these last 3 weeks when I've been writing a story with a March 15th deadline. My CP's knew how stressed I was and never failed to give me prompt and "spot on" critiques. Bless their hawk-eyed expertise.
But what do critique partners do? First off they point out grammatical errors, like misuse of commas. (Drats!!!) They make remarks about your hero not acting very "hero worthy." They ask questions like, "Would your heroine really behave this way?" Or bring you up short with "I don't get this." (Yikes!!! Rewrites required.) They stick in exclamation points and smiley faces when you've done something right. And they point out holes in your plot.
In short, Critique Partners are invaluable.
I get too emotionally wrapped up in my story. I don't see the inconsistencies. They do. I miss things like putting my reactions ahead of the action. Or that dratted "telling" issue instead of "showing." Some things I can do well. Other areas I'm weak. Slowly they're teaching me. And for that, I'm grateful.
Critique Partners should never try to change your voice, but strive to help you enhance it.
Not all CP's are a good fit. CP's need to praise as equally as they criticize. CP's should pull the best out of you, not make you feel as if you can do nothing right. The three of us write in very different styles, yet each respects the other's way of writing. That's why mine are the best. They let me be me.