Monday, December 8, 2014

Critique partners? Yes!

Have I mentioned how cool my critique partners are? All my CPs have been happily married for long enough to be mothers of grown children. They've raised families and have gone on to start careers as writers.

Lizbeth Selvig is not only a published author with Avon's Impulse line, but an experienced horsewoman and rider, active with her pony club for many years. Her daughter is a veterinarian and custodian of Liz's many 'grand animals' while her son and daughter in law have given her an actual human grand-daughter.

Nancy is a full teaching professor (who wants to keep her two identities separate, so I'll say nothing more specific about that.) She's signed a contract for two of her books – but can't talk about that either, yet, lest she preempt the publisher's promotional plans. She continually impresses me with her work ethic and productivity – and her kindness in providing many a ride to our meetings.

Ellen has been learning to fly a small plane! She's already qualified to fly solo – and her WWII home front romantic-intrigue novels are sure to find an audience when the right publisher comes along.

I am pleased and proud to be in such fine company. Though I don't feel too shabby, with my multiple publications and multi-faceted artistic background, I feel I've got plenty to learn from the varied backgrounds of the others.

My CPs have given me numerous suggestions that make my stories better and my characters more believable – not to mention my grammar and spelling better. Each of them comes from a different perspective and finds different kinds of problems in my work. Nancy writes short and is great at getting to the pith of a story. Liz has worked professionally as an editor and catches every problem in punctuation. Ellen asks questions that get to motivation and character. There's not a lot of markup when she sends her feedback, but it doesn't take much from her to get me rethinking everything.

When I neared the halfway point of my WIP, troubled by the unsettling feeling that there was no dynamic tension and the whole thing was winding up too soon, my CPs put their fingers on the problem. My hero was acting as if he took the strange and magical elements of the story at face value, when he's the sort who would doubt and question everything. As much as he'd want the magic to be true, he's a cynic. He'd be motivated by concern for the heroine, but would not accept her purported identity without question, and the whole quest could fail if he hangs back too long.

There have been episodes like this with every story. Sometimes I think I should cite them as co-authors, since the stories would not be the same without them, but so far I'm sticking to thanking them every chance I get, and particularly in the acknowledgment sections of each work I have gotten published


Julie Eberhart Painter said...

Additional eyes will find those errors and inconsistencies faster than we can, thereby saving us time to plot against...

You see where I'm going here.

Anonymous said...

I luv my too. They have contributed so much to the quality of my books. Larry is a tech winnie like me and a readaholic while Sally is a retired tech editor. She catches all grammar and typo mistakes. I too am so lucky.

Michael Davis (
Author of the Year (2008 and 2009)
Award of Excellence (2012)

Unknown said...

I've gotten several great CP's through my Twitter contacts, and they've been great--and invaluable in spotting grammar/typo issues as well as glaring plot or narrative holes. To paraphrase Tiny Tim, 'God bless 'em, every one'.