I'm a lucky girl. I have kickass crit group, a great beta reader, 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.
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 each of these in my beta reading ranks. As for my own style, I hope that I am a partner to my crit group and regular beta readers. If I'm just critting somebody as a one off--then I'm more of a tactful whipcracker and reader (<-this is fair warning for any of those who take me up on the offer at the bottom of the page.)
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 hearDoesn't just point our problems, but offers suggestionsAppreciates constructive criticismTakes 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 changesHas 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 theirsTears 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.
**Okay, so in a few days I may be looking for a few "readers" for the first fifty pages of my romance, Wanderlust. As I mentioned, I'm entering a few contests, and even though it's been through detailed critting already, I'd love overarching opinions on those contest type questions (i.e. Do you want to read more? Does the voice shine through? etc.)
You don't have to be a writer, just a reader (preferably of romance). But if you are a writer, I will offer something in return: either a detailed crit of your first chapter (up to 15pgs) or an overall opinion of your first 50pgs.
If anyone is interested, email me (click on the email button at the top right of the page). If I get more than three offers, I'll just pick three at random since I won't have time to crit more than that. (Warning: my story contains some four letter words, so if you're offended by that, please don't apply.)** REQUEST NOW CLOSED--Thanks to all those who offered to read for me! You guys rock. :)
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
(player in sidebar, take a listen)