So, I did some research, and found that most great critique partners (CP's) have the four qualities below in common.
If I see these qualities shine through in their critique, then I know I can trust what they say.
Here they are:
Duh, right? : )
Well, here's the thing: maybe when they agreed to critique my story, they didn't realize it was over five billion pages long and about the inner musings of a monologuing, narcoleptic snail.
Needless to say, the CP may be tempted to skim through my story instead of reading it, which will be apparent in their critique. That's a red flag.
A great CP will keep their word and read my entire manuscript as agreed upon.
Though we all want to hear, "Your story was perfect, I have no suggestions," such a sentiment isn't usually found in an honest critique : )
Just about every story has room for improvement and a great critique partner won't hesitate to offer suggestions in this regard.
On the other hand, another aspect of a CP's job is to find the magic (the hilarious joke on page 504,628 or the scene on page 80,000,000 that was so vividly written it sent shivers up their spine) in your story, point it out, and encourage you to do more of this.
So, a great CP knows that writers need honest feedback and they'll let us know what does and doesn't work in our manuscript. If their critique is free of either criticism or compliments, that's usually a red flag.
The best advice is often simple and a great CP knows this.
When they offer suggestions, they'll point out an example of where you made an error in your manuscript and then use plain language to explain why what you wrote is in need of improvement. After this, they'll suggest how you can go about correcting it.
On the other hand, if their critique includes numerous blanket statements about your writing and yet fails to point out any specific examples of exactly where in your manuscript you made the error they're referring to, that's not a good sign.
For example, they may say something like, "I noticed that you have major issues with telling instead of showing." This is a great thing to notice, but if instead of pointing out an example or two of where you've done this and then explaining how you can fix it, they go on to the next problem they found in your manuscript, that's not very helpful to you as a new writer.
And of course, if the CP directly insults you, your characters, or the premise of your story by calling it/you "stupid", "lame", etc...that's a HUGE red flag.
Insulting a fellow writer in a critique (even jokingly) is unprofessional and as the opposite of constructive criticism, it tears down. You shouldn't have to put up with that, there are tons of CP's out there who are knowledgeable, motivating, and inspiring, so make it your goal to partner with them.
This can be tough, especially when a manuscript is over a billion pages long : ) And I've also noticed that occasionally, some really top notch CP's actually do take a little longer to get your manuscript back to you...but in my research online, I found that most great CP's are pretty timely and will at least let you know if they're running late on your critique. So, if your CP doesn't get back to you after five to six weeks, that may be a red flag.
I'm fairly new to writing critiques and I'm still working on becoming a better CP. So far, I've definitely benefited from a critique course offered by author, Natalie Parker, it has great tips on how to be an effective critique partner. So, if you want to check it out, here's a link to her site.
That's all for this week, I hope you have a fabulous day & happy writing!