Thursday, February 17, 2011

Critique partners/ Beta buddies/ the quest for 'The One'

They should have a for critique partners.

You know, post photos of your most recent books (all pictures are recent!). What you like, what you don't like. What you can't stand. Your ideal.

I started writing back in 2001. I had a beta reader who tirelessly and for free (!) checked everything I put on my fanfiction site before I posted it. That poor woman taught me rudimentary skills that I ought to have already known. She squawked when I let the angst draw out too long. She gurgled when scenes worked and was kind but honest when they did not.

So, you see, I was spoiled.

I'm on the hunt again and I find I hold everyone up to her standards. A little tough.

How does one find a partner? Besides ones relatives or SO, who in their right mind will read this stuff?


  1. Usually people find a beta reader through online friendships with people they have known for a while - someone they feel they can trust be be honest. It also has to be someone who loves the genre and has time to read carefully through your book, the ability to think critically and be able to see when something isn't working and why. Someone with a good grasp of the English language. Also someone who can see the good stuff as well as the bad and comment on that too. I expect there's nothing worse than getting a load of red pen without some nice comments to make you feel better :). It must be jolly hard to find that person and I sympathise with your search.

    I have a couple of people I beta read for and it's a scary thing for me. Mostly because I worry that my pages of notes/corrections/suggestions will lead to them deciding that I'm being too over critical and they'd rather find someone who gushes instead of picking up on errors. Fortunately, that hasn't happened!

  2. OH, I've never had an issue with someone being too critical. The opposite has been a problem. Sketchy notes, sometimes just compliments. I don't need compliments, really. I've got a thick thick skin and excessive anxiety about making mistakes. I think my books are a chore to slog through.

    I had a crit partner say she liked GLBT and then freak when she came across a romantic scene. I had a crit partner 'borrow' characters, scenarios and even dialogue. I've had many many crit partners just never send anything back, or put me off for months and then tell me they were too busy to read my ms.

    I've belonged to crit 'groups' who hated the crits I posted because they went line by line. They thought they were brutal, so I guess what I'm looking for is not what most people expect. That might be the problem.

    I wish Edi were still available. I'd PAY her to crit my books.

  3. Like Jen, I beta read for several authors that I've gotten to know well over the last year or so online. I hadn't thought of it before, but I suppose the plus side to non-writer beta readers is that we don't 'borrow' anything from the books.