Looking for a crit partner? Then, you're in luck, I'm doing matchmaking today (see bottom of post). And if you already have a terrific group, what do you look for in a beta reader?
So as most of you know, my group is currently holding a contest to find our new member. Today is the last day to enter, so if you're interested, be sure to apply on Lynnette's blog. We're going to have a serious challenge picking the winner(s) because the entries have been strong, but we're excited.
But as I started going through entries, I got to thinking--what exactly am I looking for most? First, I'm obviously examining the person's skill level. I think it's important that the members of a group are all around the same stage because if you mix beginners with the more advanced--everyone ends up frustrated.
But beyond that, what other things? If the writing talent is equal, what other things make someone a better fit?
Here is what I came up with. I'd love to hear what you look for as well.
--I'm a bit voice-obsessed. If I'm not feeling your voice (or there is a lack of voice), then I'm going to dread spending months critting the story. That's one of those things that's hard to help someone fix.
--Just like anyone else, I have my subject and genre preferences. My group only accepts those who write romance or have romantic elements in their stories. However, even within those parameters, there are subgenres I'm more drawn to than others. For instance, if you story is a high fantasy with romantic elements, it's probably not going to be my cuppa.
--You don't necessarily have to write funny, but if the person seems to have a good sense of humor, that's a plus. This writing thing can be tough at times and nothing makes me feel better than sharing a laugh with my group. I have trouble connecting with people who take themselves and life too seriously.
--Critting is about honesty (delivered with respect and tact). I expect my partners to hold my feet to the fire if something isn't working for them. On that same note, I want someone who will take the time to point out what they liked because, hell, I've got a tough skin, but I crave positive feedback just like anyone else. So if I made you laugh--tell me--if I made you groan--tell me that, too.
--Now I don't mean the person needs to be formal. God knows some of the conversations we have on our chat loop are far from professional. But what I mean is someone who is serious about their writing and commitments--they turn their crits in on time (or send a note saying why they couldn't that week), they don't share my work with others, etc.
--This may differ for some people, but I appreciate a critter who doesn't just say what's wrong, but offers suggestions. Sometimes it's hard to see things because we're so close to our own work. So I love it when one of my buddies says, "Hey, the pacing is a little slow here, maybe move this scene over here" or "this seems to start too late, maybe back up and start from this point instead." Those are my smack forehead moments--like, wow, why didn't I think of that? That makes so much sense.
So those are my wish list items, I'm looking forward to hearing what yours are. But first, I've had a few people reach out to me who are looking for critique groups or beta readers (but didn't write romance to apply for my contest), so I thought I would do a little crit matchmaking again. I've done this in the past with some success, so hopefully this helps a few of you out again.
If you are looking to form/join a crit group or are looking for beta readers, please put your information in the linky box below. Include your NAME AND GENRE in the name section AND leave your contact info in the comments section so people know how to reach you. Then if you see others pop up in your genre, you'll be able to click on their name and contact them through their blog or look for their email address in the comments.
I'll leave this open for as long as needed so people can sign up in the future as well
Alright, so what do you look for most in a crit partner? Do you think it's important to match up genre and skill level? What lessons have you learned from crit relationships that didn't work out?
And remember, if you sign up above, leave your contact info in the comments.