It might sound weird, but I enjoy critiquing someone else's manuscript more than I like my work being critiqued. Reading a crit for my own work is helpful for that particular novel, but critiquing others helps me think in broader terms. It shakes me out of my comfort zone as I experience other voices, other styles.
But getting your finished draft critted is like standing naked in the middle of town. You'll get the occasional wolf whistle for a clever piece of narrative, but you'll also get heckled and have angry old women (and men) curse you with their canes.
Maria! What were you thinking? Destroy this scene at once and never let it darken my door again!I have very stern critique partners. I also love them. They keep me from making a total fool of myself.
I've probably critiqued well over 700 short stories, chapters and whole novels so far. Two thirds of that total was done on OWW. OWW is short for Online Writing Workshop for Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror.
I don't remember how I found OWW, but for a 30 day free trial, I was glad to test the waters and see how I'd fare. That was six years ago. Talk about being a babe in the woods! I didn't know nuttin'.
The more I reviewed, the more I learned. I got to be pretty good at it too. People would review my work in the hopes I would crit them back.
Within a few months, I had a regular posse of 8-12 critters who would review my work as soon as it came up. I rarely left the submission up on the shop for more than a week. Once it had at least eight reviews I took it down and moved on. That was more than enough feedback for me to work with.
Three years ago, I started a private crit group that reads and reviews entire novels in one go. You don't catch as many individual nits, but you can analyze the story arc and character developments better.
But I really owe OWW a lot because they taught me the bones of a good crit and a good novel. They were so integral to the development of my upcoming release, True Believers, that I acknowledged OWW in the dedication.
Many reviewers read the original incarnation of that story and helped me shape it to what it would become. It was a long road for this story, but I'm glad to see it reach fruition.
Critique partners, no matter where you find them, are indispensable.
Do you have a critique partner(s)? How did you find yours?
UPDATE: Kait Nolan, Jennifer Shirk, Marianne Arkins, Barbara Wright commented and left their respective crit group urls. If you're looking for a partner, here are a few more places to check out.
Crit Partner Match We're like Match.com but for writers.
Passionate Critters Romance Writing Critique Group
OWW Online Writing Workshop for SF, Fantasy & Horror
Concrete Bride Live crit group in the Houston, TX area
Writers' Village University Online writing group
And if you have a group, leave me a comment and I will update the blog with your group's url too.