Tuesday, November 15, 2011

On critique partners and betas

You know those times when you're revising and rewriting and you start to get sick of your book? Yep. That's totally me right now. I still love the story, but all the words are starting to blur together. I think I need a break from it. But I really want to get it done. I don't have writers block or anything. I know exactly what I need to do to finish it, but it's turning into more of a chore. I want this book to be awesome. To be great. But how do I know what I need to do to make it that way?

Critique partners/Beta readers.

They are SO important to have. Once I finish this draft, I'm sending it out again. It helps so much to have fresh eyes look at my books. And honestly, I don't think I've ever had so many people look at one of my books before. Which means I'm serious about this. I want to get better. I want my book to shine. I've gotten some thick skin and I'm actually to the point where I like getting my critiques back. Even if they sting a little. I like knowing how to make it better. I've gotten so much feedback on this book. Positive things, things I need to work on and places in my book where I need to explain things so the reader isn't confused. Everyone has nasty little habits that you can't help putting into your books. It's nice to know what they are so you can avoid them in the next one. Personally, it makes me a better drafter. :)

I used to think I could spot anything myself. If I edited my book and understood it, everyone else would too. So. Not. True. I've learn so much about my own writing when my betas read for me. Good and bad. No one is perfect. That's what critique partners and betas are for. To make you LOOK perfect. And to lift you up when you're feeling down. ;)

So, if you don't have a crit partner or beta, make sure you get one before you send your baby out into the world. Your book may seem perfect to you, but trust me. You need some fresh eyes to look at it. There will always be something that needs work. Even little things like repetitive words and phrases.

Moral of this blog post? Critique partners ROCK.

That is all.

33 comments:

Sarah Pearson said...

I might be a bit weird but I'm actually getting quite excited about the day I'll be able to send something to be critiqued - maybe because I've never done it :-)

Chantele Sedgwick said...

Sarah: I used to freak out whenever I'd send my book to someone. I do so much better now. I don't turn into a crazy anymore. lol ;)

Ru said...

Solid advice Chantele. I can't wait to catch up with work so I can finish critiquing a piece for someone ... I've gotten ever-so-behind. :/

J. A. Bennett said...

Agreed!!

Kelsey said...

If you ever want someone named Kelsey to look at said W.I.P.... Hint ;)

And I had the same mindset as you; I thought I could edit all on my own. But we really are too close to our projects. Feedback is not only fun, but necessary!

E.R. King said...

Yeah for critters! When I want my MS to die in a fire, my betas save the day.

Angela Cothran said...

This is so so so TRUE! The other think I like to do is let men and women beta read for me--I get such different feedback. I also like people who read or write different genres to look at it. I feel like I get a rounded opinion that way.

Ruth Josse said...

I know what you mean when you say the words are beginning to blur together. I think one of my biggest challenges is consistency. That the book and characters feel the same from beginning to end. I've learned to grow thick skin and know that critiques are never personal.

anonymeet said...

Definitely true! Also for those out there who might not have been a beta reader - you get a LOT out of performing the same service for others. As a critical reader, you have to articulate why something is or isn't working. That ability comes back to benefit your own work, too! Good crit partner relationships are really symbiotic.

Jenny S. Morris said...

OMG, I so agree. I just found a new CP, and she has torn through the frist 6 chapters in just a few days. She sees things I missed. And, she's really excited about my book.

CP's ROCK!!

Cassie Mae said...

Critique Partners Rock! (is there an echo in here?) And I love being a critique partner...it allows me to put on my editing cap and apply my own notes to my work.

Jessie Humphries said...

I cant wait to get my ms. in the hands of my most capable and helpful CPs. But I'm with you, its turning into a chore to get it done!

Chad Morris said...

Glad to hear someone else feels the same. I love feedback, though I think really good critique partners and beta readers are tough to find.

Tasha Seegmiller said...

I so agree! I love it when I get together with my group and they point out things that either are HUGE holes or not quite what I thought they were. Definitely an essential part of the writing experience.

JEFritz said...

Crit partners are invaluable. Of course the writer understands his/her own book. If we were only writing for ourselves, it wouldn't be a problem. It's just that we're writing for other people.

Meredith said...

Yay for critique partners and beta readers! They're the best--they catch all of the problems I can't.

Abby Fowers said...

LOL! You are too cool. Critique partners and betas do rock. And I am glad that I am developing thick skin. I want to learn and become better too. I think it's alright to take a little break. Can't wait to read it again when it's read tho :)

Candice said...

So, so, SOOOOOOOOOO true!

Jessica R. Patch said...

I have no clue what I'd do without my critique partners! So true!

Mel Fowler said...

I seem to have one crit partner. one edit helper and some unoffical crit partners that haven't done anything together yet...man that's unfortunate.

Hopefully I can find a stable group.

Stacy Henrie said...

I completely agree - I couldn't do without my critique partners or my toughest beta reader - my DH. :) There are just too many little things - and sometimes big things - our writer brains fill in and we miss.

Carol Riggs said...

Absolutely! CPs are awesome, and my book would be really BAD in parts if it weren't for my critters. :) And once you get to know a good CP, you kinda carry them around in your head, and you can anticipate what they will say--so you don't put those things in your writing. They make us into better writers!

Patti said...

You know those moments when you're looking for something in the fridge and your kid comes into the kitchen and looks over your shoulder and says, "It's right there." That's how I feel about CPs and betas.

Maggie said...

I love my critique partner and I've also got some ouchy crits from other people that ended up being exactly what my MS needed. One thing to be careful of though is Death By Critique. You don't want sooo much input that you begin to lose your voice. If one person is the only one who thinks something is odd about your book, you might kick it around a bit before you decide to change it. Just my opinion. Roni Loren wrote an awesome post awhile back called Death By Critique.

Chantele Sedgwick said...

I TOTALLY agree, Maggie. You can't lose your voice. Take what you think makes the most sense and change what you need to. It's your story. :)

Julianne Donaldson said...

That is so true! I'm always amazed by what my beta readers find--even after the fifth revision. You can never find it all yourself, and you need somebody else's perspective to catch what isn't obvious to you. Good luck with plowing through your revisions!

J.R. Johansson said...

*Nods* *Nods* *Nods Some More* Totally agree. :)

Amber Argyle, author said...

Yup. Betas and Alphas are a must have.

Michelle Merrill said...

Agreed. Sorry it took me so long to stop by. Crit Partners are about the best thing someone could do for their book. For the life of me, I can't see what others can in my MS's. And I have some awesome CP's! :)

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I know a few writers who think that armed with a book on self-editing, they can do it all themselves. But it's impossible to edit a book well without some help!

Jolene Perry said...

I started college to be an English teacher, and the SAME thing stopped me. Do I really want to grade hundreds of five-paragraph essays???

I taught math instead ;D

THANKS for another great interview!

Gail Shepherd said...

I agree. I owe my crit partners and betas a lot! And they all tend to spot different strengths and weakensses, which makes things lively!

Katie Dodge said...

YOU rock! ;)