What Makes A Good Crit Buddy?


Photo by Linzi Clark


I'm a lucky girl. I've had a kickass crit group, great beta readers, and friends (bloggy and otherwise) who have generously read for me and offered feedback. And what is always interesting to me is how different people can see such different things. That's why it's important to make sure you have a wide variety of people critting you (people who are not related to you, btw.)
Types of critters:
--This person invests in you as much as you invest in them. You exchange equally and you offer the entire gamut of feedback: line edits, plotting, characterization, story, pacing, etc.
--This is the person that you also go to for advice on writing career things
--I think having one of these is vital, but not everyone can fulfill this role because it takes a lot of time investment
--This person is further on the path in their writing career, maybe they've already been published.  They can offer you guidance along the way.
Proofreader (Grammar Nazi)
--The detail-oriented English teacher type. She can spot a dangling modifier or misplaced comma from twenty yards away. She focuses on the trees, not the forest.
--This reader sends your crit back with lots of smiley faces, lol's, and positive comments along with the negative things. They may not be as detailed as the proofreader, but they give you the confidence keep going. This is the person who will talk you off the ledge when you're ready to give up.
--This person doesn't let you get away with anything. If you have deadline, she's poking you until you meet it. If you get lazy in your writing and try to sneak in a little telling, she will call your butt out.
--This person is not a writer but is a voracious reader. She is looking at the forest, not the trees.  This is also invaluable because SHE (or he) is your customer. This is who you are ultimately writing for.
Looking at this list, I definitely have had each of these in my beta reading ranks. As for my own style, I hope that I am a partner to my friends and regular beta readers. If I'm just critting somebody as a one off--then I'm more of a (hopefully) tactful whipcracker and reader.
So, how do you know you've found the right crit buddy?

A good buddy...
Listens to your suggestion and even if they don't always take them, they give them serious consideration.
Makes an effort to understand your writing and where you are coming from.
Gives as much as she gets.
Is honest--even when she knows it might be hard for your to hear
Doesn't just point our problems, but offers suggestions
Appreciates constructive criticism
Takes the time to point out what she loves, not just what's wrong (that smiley face here and there can go a long way when you've received a rough crit)
And beware the toxic crit parter, this person...
Throws up the defenses the minute you say something negative or suggest changes
Has a million excuses as to why your suggestions don't work--you don't understand their genre, you're not "getting" their point, etc.
Rarely implements the changes you offer.
Tells you what's wrong in your manuscript but doesn't offer help on what they think would fix it.
Only wants accolades. When those don't come, they get angry, pouty, or generally difficult.
Doesn't put forth as much effort on your work as you do on theirs
Tears apart your work without tact or helpful suggestions and if you get hurt, tell you that you need a thicker skin.
--There is a huge difference between "this sucks, I'm totally lost" and "this chapter may need a little reworking to make the plot points clearer"
If this toxic buddy is in your life, fire them. You don't need that in your life. Writing is hard enough--don't add to your stress. Find good critters and move on.


CRIT GROUP MATCHMAKIING: Inevitably when I do posts on crit groups, people asks where to find crit partners because it can be such a hard thing to find when you're starting out and don't know many writers yet. I found all of mine online through blogging. But there are a lot of different ways--going to local writer's groups, social networking, etc. However, what I've done in the past is a little online matchmaking. 

SO, if you are looking for a beta reader/crit parter, put your info in a comment to this post: NAME, EMAIL ADDRESS, GENRE, and what you're looking for, then people who match up with you can contact you. If you make a match, I suggest exchanging just one chapter first to make sure that your styles match and such. Good luck!

Alright, so what kind of critter are you? Do you recognize any of these types in your circle? Have you ever had a toxic beta reader?
**Today's Theme Song**
"Lipstick and Bruises"-- Lit
*This is a repost from November of last year.