Getting the most from critique partners

Writing is a solitary experience. We sit in front of our computers and pour our heart and soul on to the pages. When we read the result of our labors we are probably stunned with our sheer genius and amazing ability to produce crap.

There's only one way to really know the difference and that's by letting other people read our work. Scary!
Waiting on comments can be a real nail-biter CC

Even if you have amazing critique partners who willingly read your work through countless revisions, you only get one chance to get their first reaction to your story. Here are a few tips that I've picked up to help me get the most out of the generous people who help to make me a better writer.

1. Don't submit a first draft
This one isn't agreed on universally, but for me, it's a standing rule for my work. I know that first draft is rough. I know I have spelling and grammar mistakes, missing words and poorly conjugated verbs. And those are just the grammar issues.

A CP is going to be distracted by all these things and that means they aren't paying attention to what you really want them to focus on, the writing. Take the time to fix the things you know are wrong or aren't working so your CPs can help you where you need it most.

2. Don't be afraid to ask questions.
If you are lucky enough to meet with your CPs in person, it's easy enough to ask about their comments. But don't let a long distance relationship get in the way of maximizing the relationship. Your partner wouldn't have mentioned it if it wasn't important so if you don't understand something, just ask.

3. Apply single comments across the novel.
On page 48 your CP circles a conversation and writes "add more body movement, facial expressions". Great, you jump right into page 48 and that dialogue is now rocking your face off. But don't stop there. Look at all your dialogue and see if it needs some movement as well.

Some CPs will not repeat themselves out of fear of sounding like a nag. And honestly, they shouldn't have to keep telling you the same thing. Chances are if you have an issue in one section, that same problem pops up at least a few other times in your work.

4. You don't have to agree with every change/comment.
Don't forget that this is still your book and critiques are subjective. There are a million ways to write a novel and everyone will do it slightly different. And isn't that a good thing? Read all the comments and be sure to thank your critiquers, but at the end of the day you have to do what's right for your work.

5. Don't ignore a comment.
I think this is the most important tip and if you take away nothing else, remember this one. Even if you don't agree with a comment, it still contains merit. You might get a critique telling you the MCs reaction to a situation feels out of character. You read it and ignore it because you know that's exactly how your MC would react.

And maybe you're right, but if your partner didn't sense that then you might be missing some key personality reveals earlier in the book. Just keep in mind that every comment was prompted by something a reader felt about your writing. If you chose not to make a change, make sure you understand why and not just because you don't want to.

Now it's your turn. What are your best tips for maximizing critique partnerships?