This weekend I want to give out a shout of appreciation to my critique partners. I have had critique partners for a few years now, but up until that point I worked alone, with no first reader and no critique partner. I have to say I find that incomprehensible now.
My critique partners help with editing, restructure of sentences and, more importantly, make me think deeper and harder. A critique partner should not only improve your writing, they should also make you understand your story a lot better too.
I didn’t realize how much of me I put into my stories until I had critique partners.
I’ve come to realize that the theme or message of my stories is often very similar. My main issue seems to be trust. What it takes for my protagonist to trust again after heartbreak, bereavement or betrayal.
A fresh pair of eyes can spot your theme, sometimes before you recognize it yourself. The advantage of knowing your theme early on is huge. It means you will delve deeper into your character, bring their heartfelt emotions onto the page and thus, give your reader a more satisfying read.
Why? Because they will understand your character’s deep-seated fear, the internal obstacles holding them back from being the person they want to be. This is what is at the heart of a good story. Think about your favorite books. I guarantee it was the characters internal struggles that kept you turning the pages. When we pick up a book, we hope to find something that resonates with us. Something that makes us think, feel, cry or laugh. We want to travel with the character through an issue we understand.
However, if your critique partner is making you uncomfortable or suggesting changes you really don’t agree with – that’s fine too. Reach out for a new partner. I promise whether or not you find one who fits, they will add something to your writing and go a long way to making your work better than it was before.
I’d love to hear your experiences with critique partners!