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Candace Rose
06-02-2011, 02:03 AM
I have a few misgivings about a potential critique partner, and I need some opinions from more experienced writers!

I just got an email from very nice person who saw me on another forum. She even went out of her way to go to my blog to get my email address so that she could contact me.

I'm a little hesitant for a few reasons.

She wanted to know whether I would be interested in her as a critique partner, because it's difficult for her to find someone who writes in the same genre as she does.
Red flag #1--I write YA fantasy/sci-fi. Writers in my genre are a dime a dozen. Does that mean she's ill informed, or doesn't do her homework? I mean, really, we're everywhere!

I went to her website and she looks to be in her fifties or so, about twice my age. I'm a little worried that our tastes will be too different. Has anybody had experience with a critique partner that was either much older or much younger? How did it go? We are both fairly new to writing(although she's written more full-length novels than I have), which I think is a plus.

I read through some of her work that she's posted on her site, and it's not bad. But the stuff she has posted on her site is polished and being queried, even though I don't think it's quite there.(but what do I know :) )

But then I clicked over to her blog and found a recent post that scares me a little(I removed the verbatim post, becauseshe might be able to find it via google as Anna pointed out. Oops.)

Basically she's bemoaning the fact that she can't find a good critique partner who won't "annihilate" her work. She loves it so much, and can't see why they would tear it apart like that. In her opinion, it doesn't need all the work that they say it does.

Um, yikes! The thing is, her writing does need work. For one, the passages she has on her website are very wordy--she takes three paragraphs to tell us what could have been done in two sentences(although the writing itself is pretty good)
And her voice is off for YA. One story is written from a 12 year old boy's perspective, but the boy talks and reacts like a middle-aged woman.

Would I just be wasting my time trying to help her? I really don't want to do all that work, only to have her say "You just don't understand." and ignore my advice.

I have no reason to think that she wouldn't be able to critique my work effectively. But you never really know until you get there.

I hope this post doesn't sound mean or condescending. Like I said, she's very nice, and it's not her skill level that I'm worried about. I really just need some outside opinions from people who've been there!

Anna L.
06-02-2011, 02:53 AM
Welll, she's admitting right there that she's in love with her work and can't see anything wrong with it. I'd worry that by "annihilated", she means she got honest and helpful feedback, but she's not in a state of mind that would allow her to see it objectively, so to her it's mean and hurtful.

I'd also worry she might stumble onto this post via google or whatever, because you quoted her instead of paraphrasing.

Chase
06-02-2011, 02:59 AM
The biggest red flag I see isn't from her bunker. It's from yours. Age prejudices and conclusion-jumping indicate a critique partnership may not be a good idea.

Besides, you don't like her writing style, and she's cautious. As your intended partner implied, finding a fit is difficult, so run!

Candace Rose
06-02-2011, 03:03 AM
Thanks Anna, I edited it out. Stupid of me not to think of that!

Candace Rose
06-02-2011, 03:08 AM
I'm sorry if I implied that I don't want to work with her because of her age. I just worried that difference in ages might mean differences in taste that don't translate well when critiquing. I've never had a "real" critique partner, and I'm really not sure what is important to look for and what isn't.
It's not that I don't like her writing style. I'm just not sure if she would be open to my suggestions on how to improve, given that she is blinded by her love her work.

Sarah Madara
06-02-2011, 03:16 AM
If you're not enthusiastic, then I wouldn't do it. Who needs the headache?

That said, if you still do want to try, can you start small? Suggest exchanging one chapter, see how you work together, take it from there. You make it sound like such a big commitment, but I'm not sure it has to be at this point.

Candace Rose
06-02-2011, 03:22 AM
LOL Sarah, it feels like a big commitment! Maybe I'm being a teensy bit dramatic. I just don't like the idea of having to "break up" with someone, like she would get her feelings hurt or something. Who knows, she might not like my work and then I would be the one getting broken up with ;) It's not you, it's me...

Sarah Madara
06-02-2011, 03:26 AM
I know what you mean, and I'd worry about it too (though probably needlessly). I've never broken up with anyone. Seriously. At all. :)

But back to the issue: If I were you, I would worry more about whether she provided useful feedback on my own work. If I critique someone else's work and she doesn't use a single suggestion, that's not my problem. If she doesn't like my feedback, presumably she will not continue to seek it. But I don't care what she does with it, because I've done my job to the best of my ability. KWIM?

Chase
06-02-2011, 03:48 AM
I've never broken up with anyone. Seriously. At all.

She just steps on them.

Come on, Sarah, what guy would dare break up with a woman fifty feet tall?

Chase, wondering if heightism is any better than ageism

Sarah Madara
06-02-2011, 04:23 AM
Come on, Sarah, what guy would dare break up with a woman fifty feet tall?

One fewer than would dare ask her out, I guess ;)

ETA: Damn, that didn't make sense. I've got nothing better, so I'm leaving it. Sue me.

scarletpeaches
06-02-2011, 04:28 AM
When it comes to beta readers, crit partners and the like, I've always let such relationships develop naturally out of pre-existing friendships.

All of which have been cultivated through AW, as it happens. :)

Candace Rose
06-02-2011, 05:09 AM
Thanks everyone for your opinions. I'm still not sure what I'm going to do, but I feel more secure in the knowledge that this isn't quite the life-altering decision I've built it up to be in my head. Maybe I would feel more comfortable if it were someone I knew even a little instead of someone I've never really spoken to before. Lots to consider...

Sarah Madara
06-02-2011, 05:20 AM
Maybe I would feel more comfortable if it were someone I knew even a little instead of someone I've never really spoken to before.

I think you answered your own question.

There's an AW crit circle that I've gotten really helpful feedback from, and also gotten to know other people's writing and critique styles. And of course there's the SYW forum. You can crit other's work any time, and you can post something of your own when you reach the 50 post count. Letting a critique relationship evolve more organically may well be worth the wait.

Good luck whatever you decide.

Polenth
06-02-2011, 12:00 PM
Thanks everyone for your opinions. I'm still not sure what I'm going to do, but I feel more secure in the knowledge that this isn't quite the life-altering decision I've built it up to be in my head. Maybe I would feel more comfortable if it were someone I knew even a little instead of someone I've never really spoken to before. Lots to consider...

Based on what you've said, I'm not sure why you're even considering it. You're worried about her approach and you don't like the voice in her writing. If it was just for betaing, this wouldn't matter so much... you'd give your feedback and be done. But for a critique partner, you're going to be seeing a lot of her and her writing.

Parametric
06-02-2011, 01:20 PM
Basically she's bemoaning the fact that she can't find a good critique partner who won't "annihilate" her work. She loves it so much, and can't see why they would tear it apart like that. In her opinion, it doesn't need all the work that they say it does.

I'd bail. There are plenty of writers who would kill for honest critique. You don't need to be the next person she's complaining about.

profen4
06-02-2011, 02:21 PM
Beta readers / critique partners come in all shapes and sizes. I tend to be pretty open when it comes to critiques (getting them and giving them). Don't forget, your target audience (for example, a MG book for 9-12 year olds) aren't always your best beta readers. Plus, there are many librarians, book buyers, major reviewers, agents, and editors, who are +50 year old. Also, not enjoying a certain genre doesn't preclude you from identifying something good vs. something bad.

Finally, offering suggestions to someone else who doesn't appreciate the advice is kind of crumby, but spotting others mistakes helps you as much as it does them. Plus I'm a believer in karma, so I tend to think that as long as you critique a mss. the best you can, providing feedback honestly without trying to hurt someone, you don't need to worry about what they do with your comments.

my 2 cents

Anne Lyle
06-02-2011, 06:40 PM
Age shouldn't be an issue - I'm way older than most people here (as IdiotsRUs and seun can attest!), but I work with people in their twenties and we have very similar tastes in fiction. Geekdom transcends age boundaries :)

On the other hand this person obviously isn't open to critique, so why waste your time on her when there are, as you say, plenty of other fish in the sea? Besides, if she can't see the flaws in her own work, what makes you think she will see them in yours?

Fruitbat
06-02-2011, 07:04 PM
I read your concern about the age difference as maybe you have a hard time feeling like you're on a level playing field with someone twice your age or something like that. I don't think there's a thing wrong with wanting to work with whatever type of person you're comfortable with, it is a very personal relationship. If you feel like someone more like yourself would "get you" better then that just tells you something else about what you're looking for.

I too find it worrisome that she says everyone "annihilates" her work. I don't think that's likely. More like she is difficult and doesn't like correction.

Also I agree with those who say let the partner thing come about as a sub-set of those you swap critiques with first. Being partners right off seems like it's setting you up for an ugly little problem. It's just not that likely that anyone you haven't worked with several times before would be someone you're likely to want to get that involved with.

And of couse whatever you do, you can undo, so even if you make a mistake it's okay. :)

austen
06-02-2011, 07:58 PM
I've also found when I've been in a critique group with someone who wants a lot of praise that they don't give very good critiques of my work. It seems like people treat you how they want to be treated. If they want you to praise their work, they tend to praise yours a lot (and go light on the critiques).

It took me some trial and error to figure out what I need in a crit partner. It's good that you're thinking this over carefully. Good luck!

Karen Junker
06-02-2011, 10:24 PM
I have critiqued for over 60 people from AW. Most of them do not ever respond to my first set of comments.

What I do is suggest that the person send me a chapter or a few pages and I'll comment and they can see if they can work with my critique style.

I'm very candid about my reactions to the work--and I will tell someone if I think they need to polish their work a bit more. I am specific--I do line edits and show them where they've made typos, grammar or spelling errors, punctuation problems or anachronisms. I point out continuity issues and I will make suggestions for how to phrase things in a more powerful way if they have used passive phrasing.

My experience tells me that this is not information that most people appreciate. :) Having a manuscript marked up with suggestions sometimes looks like the work is being annihilated.

I always point out the strengths of the work. Even so, most people I've critted for have not come back for more. The ones who do are either published or agented at this point, or at least writing above a beginner level.

It will probably take some time for you to develop your skills as a crit partner. If you do it a lot, even if the other person disappears, you will learn a lot and it will help you to improve your own writing.

Good luck!

WriteMinded
06-07-2011, 01:41 AM
I suggest you look elsewhere for a crit partner because you've already made up your mind about this one.

If I'm ever lucky enough to find a crit partner, I will do the best I can to give helpful feedback, but I won't be bothered by whether or not they take my suggestions. I probably won't take all of theirs.

That said, this is why I don't like to post my age in forums. I get stuck in a box that's shaped to fit someone else.

I recently did a small bit of beta reading for another AW member. We are decades apart in age, different sexes, different countries, different genres. We had a lot of fun. My comments and questions were well received and appreciated. In return, a chapter I was concerned about was critiqued. The feedback was great. A couple of things I'd never have noticed on my own were pointed out. It was a good experience.

Though you might guess from this post, if you read any part of my WIP, I don't think you'd come near pegging my age or guess my gender. (Well, maybe gender, after all there aren't that many to choose from.)

Good luck with your search and your project.

Fruitbat
06-07-2011, 02:00 AM
My experience tells me that this is not information that most people appreciate. :) Having a manuscript marked up with suggestions sometimes looks like the work is being annihilated.

I always point out the strengths of the work. Even so, most people I've critted for have not come back for more.

Yes. Yes. Yes. And then I wonder why I keep critiquing. I think I am just kind of compulsive about it. I'm just drawn to do it I guess.

areteus
06-07-2011, 02:22 AM
One of my most valued crit partners is older than me. Politeness forbids me stating *how* much older but let us suffice with 'about the same difference as you are talking about' :). My other crit partner is the same age as me (more or less, I am older by a little).

Now, I have not noticed any difference in responses and advice from either of these. They pick up on slightly different things but that is normal - everyone will see something different in anything, which is why you have more than one crit of anything. They both seem to be in synch in what they see as good and what they see as bad. About the only difference I apply is my response to their reactions to genres. One is an experienced romance writer, with books in print and years of experience of dealing with all the stuff writers have to deal with. The other is someone I trust with regards to sci fi and fantasy elements of my work because I know his background in that. This does not mean I ignore one's response to fantasy and the other's response to romance it merely means I weigh each response and if, for example, the romance author says she really likes my sci fi stuff but the sci fi expert says it seems a little cliched then I edge towards the expert's view.

I have to say, however, that both relationships developed over time and did not come from a cold call out of the blue. One of them is an old and dear friend who I went to university with while the other is someone I have worked with on writing for years (though we have never met, she lives in Canada) and have developed a rapport with.

Rowan
06-07-2011, 04:11 AM
I suggest you look elsewhere for a crit partner because you've already made up your mind about this one.

If I'm ever lucky enough to find a crit partner, I will do the best I can to give helpful feedback, but I won't be bothered by whether or not they take my suggestions. I probably won't take all of theirs.

That said, this is why I don't like to post my age in forums. I get stuck in a box that's shaped to fit someone else.

I recently did a small bit of beta reading for another AW member. We are decades apart in age, different sexes, different countries, different genres. We had a lot of fun. My comments and questions were well received and appreciated. In return, a chapter I was concerned about was critiqued. The feedback was great. A couple of things I'd never have noticed on my own were pointed out. It was a good experience.

Though you might guess from this post, if you read any part of my WIP, I don't think you'd come near pegging my age or guess my gender. (Well, maybe gender, after all there aren't that many to choose from.)

Good luck with your search and your project.

I agree. Finding a (good) crit partner is hard enough without throwing additional monkey wrenches into the mix. It shouldn't be about the person's age or gender, but how well you 'mesh' as crit partners. Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses. For me personally, the key is finding a partner you, a) feel comfortable working with and can build a long-term writing relationship, and b) who brings out the best in your writing. You get as much as you give in most cases. (Among other things.) :)

Don't sweat the small stuff. Swap a couple of chapters and see if your styles mesh and if you're on the same wavelength, etc. Who knows--she might prove to be a fantastic beta reader if given a chance. If it doesn't work out, you can go your separate ways.

Stijn Hommes
06-07-2011, 01:59 PM
Basically she's bemoaning the fact that she can't find a good critique partner who won't "annihilate" her work. I'd ask her what she expect of a betareader and see if that fits with you. How a comment comes across largely depends on how you say it, though. I can annihilate someone's story and still be nice about it.

Perks
06-07-2011, 03:34 PM
Entry into a critique-partner arrangement shouldn't feel like a tricky chore. There's enough doubt in the original post that I'd vote to move on.

Carmen Baxter
06-07-2011, 04:29 PM
Facing criticism by other writers is tough. But it's easier if the person providing the critique is on the same wavelength. If someone you respect, or whose writing you respect, gives his/her opinion, it matters.

From your description, this is not the case. I'd still be tempted to send a reply. Keep it curteous, but let her know that you don't think it's going to work. You yourself welcome not only positive reinforcement but also harsher criticisms. If your writing partner has different goals or different expectations, you are clearly not a match. End by wishing her good luck.

That way you are honest without crushing her.

Well, at least that's my advice, as a third party. I appreciate it's more difficult if you are actually stuck in this situation. Best of luck, whatever you decide.

areteus
06-07-2011, 07:01 PM
I have to say that there is no point in having a crit partner if all they are going to do is rubber stamp everything as 'ok'. I used to hate that when friends I gave work to just read and said 'that's fine' because it suggests they didn't even read it. I always, when giving crits, make sure the person knows I will be brutal and nitpicky and I expect the same back. When they do finally say 'that's fine' it should be because you've sweated and worked hard through several rewrites to overcome all the problems they highlighted in the earlier drafts.

It does sound like this person is looking for positive reinforcement on her work without bothering to go through the process of improving and revising it... it is also possible that she has had bad crits in the past and is looking for a more balanced view (the opposite to 'that's fine' is the equally bad 'that's terrible' with no ideas on to how to improve it). It is also possible that she read some balanced crits and her mind is so focussed on the negatives that she did not see the positives or the suggestions to fix it... either way, I think she is going to be disappointed if she expects anything like she describes in a crit partner...

Candace Rose
06-08-2011, 03:25 AM
Wow, thanks everyone for all the advice. I thought my thread would die quickly, so I haven't come back to check it like I should. I'm kind of a jerk like that I guess ;)
I've decided not to work with her, and I know my post gave the impression that I was obsessing about her age, but I promise--I wasn't. It was just a tiny question amidst the greater worry of her being some sort of "diva" about her work. And even though it shouldn't really matter to me whether or not she takes my advice, I would rather spend my time helping someone who can actually BE helped, rather than someone who might try and find excuses for the flaws in her writing.
Someone else pointed out that she might tend to go easy on my work, pointing out only the good and minimizing the bad because that's what she wants to hear from a critique partner. That was one of my biggest worries as well.
A lot of people brought up some great points that I hadn't considered, which will help me in my continued search for the "perfect" partner. Thank you!

Anacry
06-09-2011, 02:57 AM
My advice? Run. Run far, far away.
You're not even in the thick of it and you're miserable, so no point in going to the next level of it.

Figuro
06-09-2011, 04:55 PM
Having a crit writing partner, is in a weird way like having a relationship with someone. It needs to work for both parties and both need to be brutally honest to ensure that it does. If you already having reservations, then go with them and politely decline her offer. In my search for crit writing partners I've declined and also been declined - it's just part of the journey.

Follow your heart here and do what's right for you. Age doesn't really matter when the writer is open minded and in the same or similar genre to yourself.

Ideally you want to partner up with someone that is as passionate and serious about your work, as they are their own - therefore willing to make the time and put in the effort to help you succeed. And you full heartily are willing to do the same for them. There may be many of us fantasy genre writers out there, but it's all about meeting the right CWP.

Best of luck in what you decide to do.

Susan Littlefield
06-10-2011, 01:40 AM
I have a few misgivings about a potential critique partner, and I need some opinions from more experienced writers!

Always listen to your gut.



I just got an email from very nice person who saw me on another forum. She even went out of her way to go to my blog to get my email address so that she could contact me.

I'm a little hesitant for a few reasons.

She wanted to know whether I would be interested in her as a critique partner, because it's difficult for her to find someone who writes in the same genre as she does.
Red flag #1--I write YA fantasy/sci-fi. Writers in my genre are a dime a dozen. Does that mean she's ill informed, or doesn't do her homework? I mean, really, we're everywhere!


Sometimes it is difficult to find critique partners who are the right fit. I am less inclined to believe finding critique partners in any genre is difficult. You say she writes YA too? Seems there should be plenty.


I went to her website and she looks to be in her fifties or so, about twice my age. I'm a little worried that our tastes will be too different. Has anybody had experience with a critique partner that was either much older or much younger? How did it go? We are both fairly new to writing(although she's written more full-length novels than I have), which I think is a plus.

Listen to this feeling. When critiquing, age does matter. I just left a critique group (not for any reason other than needing my writing time to be my writing time and I'm done with this process. They're great people). At first, everybody in the group was 10-20 years older than me. It was a little hard to relate to thier critique comments and wriitng style. Well, then two gentlemen came along who were exactly my age! It was so nice, because I felt I could relate to them.


I read through some of her work that she's posted on her site, and it's not bad. But the stuff she has posted on her site is polished and being queried, even though I don't think it's quite there.(but what do I know :) )

Could be why she want a critique partner. However, she is the one who decides when her work is ready.



But then I clicked over to her blog and found a recent post that scares me a little(I removed the verbatim post, becauseshe might be able to find it via google as Anna pointed out. Oops.)

Basically she's bemoaning the fact that she can't find a good critique partner who won't "annihilate" her work. She loves it so much, and can't see why they would tear it apart like that. In her opinion, it doesn't need all the work that they say it does.


Listen to this as well. Critique partners are honest with each other. We do tear each other's work apart, but we do it with kindess. If she wants someone to adore her work, then a critique partner is not what she needs.



Um, yikes! The thing is, her writing does need work. For one, the passages she has on her website are very wordy--she takes three paragraphs to tell us what could have been done in two sentences(although the writing itself is pretty good)
And her voice is off for YA. One story is written from a 12 year old boy's perspective, but the boy talks and reacts like a middle-aged woman.


Sounds like you and she as critique partners might not be a fit.



Would I just be wasting my time trying to help her? I really don't want to do all that work, only to have her say "You just don't understand." and ignore my advice.

I have no reason to think that she wouldn't be able to critique my work effectively. But you never really know until you get there.

I hope this post doesn't sound mean or condescending. Like I said, she's very nice, and it's not her skill level that I'm worried about. I really just need some
outside opinions from people who've been there!

You get to decide whether you want to go forward or not. Just listen to your gut every single time. :)

theneffzoo
08-23-2011, 06:25 AM
I have critiqued for over 60 people from AW. Most of them do not ever respond to my first set of comments.

What I do is suggest that the person send me a chapter or a few pages and I'll comment and they can see if they can work with my critique style.

I'm very candid about my reactions to the work--and I will tell someone if I think they need to polish their work a bit more. I am specific--I do line edits and show them where they've made typos, grammar or spelling errors, punctuation problems or anachronisms. I point out continuity issues and I will make suggestions for how to phrase things in a more powerful way if they have used passive phrasing.

My experience tells me that this is not information that most people appreciate. :) Having a manuscript marked up with suggestions sometimes looks like the work is being annihilated.

I always point out the strengths of the work. Even so, most people I've critted for have not come back for more. The ones who do are either published or agented at this point, or at least writing above a beginner level.

I want you as my crit partner! :snoopy:

CaseyMack
08-25-2011, 10:09 PM
Having a crit writing partner, is in a weird way like having a relationship with someone. It needs to work for both parties and both need to be brutally honest to ensure that it does.

I second this comment.

Finding a good critter is like dating. You can look from a distance and develop a feeling, but won't really know until you try "going out" once.

Who knows, you might find that she gives exactly the kind of feedback you find useful

...but then again, you might not never want a "second date"!

amyashley
08-26-2011, 04:21 AM
I find this thread so amusing.

Two crit partners of mine here.

Both much older than I.

Neither writes in my genre.

Neither is in my target audience.

Both beat me over the head repeatedly with critique.

I came back for more, and owe them more than I can say.

Be kind to your betas.

Adobedragon
08-26-2011, 11:07 PM
I'm between critique partners, as it were. My previous partner isn't writing much anymore. But I think we had a good partnership because we liked each other's writing.

If I really like the other person's writing, despite its flaws, it's as though I have a vested interest in improving the work, getting it polished, etc.

If it's a chore, not so much.

Summerwriter
09-28-2011, 04:37 AM
I have critiqued for over 60 people from AW. Most of them do not ever respond to my first set of comments.

That is very sad thing.


What I do is suggest that the person send me a chapter or a few pages and I'll comment and they can see if they can work with my critique style.

That is good. You don't jump head first into unknown sea, or any other deep water.


I'm very candid about my reactions to the work--and I will tell someone if I think they need to polish their work a bit more. I am specific--I do line edits and show them where they've made typos, grammar or spelling errors, punctuation problems or anachronisms. I point out continuity issues and I will make suggestions for how to phrase things in a more powerful way if they have used passive phrasing.

Now I must be honest. You are such a person I'd need to read my English writing and tell me, what is wrong with it, even I know a bit about my issues already. But if I write in certain style to control problems A and B, there are problems C and D I refuse to see. That is when a CP like you is worth his or her weight in gold.


My experience tells me that this is not information that most people appreciate. :) Having a manuscript marked up with suggestions sometimes looks like the work is being annihilated.

I must confess again. I was like that some time ago. Now, that I know a bit about my weak spots, I've learned to accept certain facts concerning my written English.


I always point out the strengths of the work. Even so, most people I've critted for have not come back for more. The ones who do are either published or agented at this point, or at least writing above a beginner level.

Well, if you'd read my English, you'd think 'Wow, this woman will never get past beginner stage'. You'd be probably right.


It will probably take some time for you to develop your skills as a crit partner. If you do it a lot, even if the other person disappears, you will learn a lot and it will help you to improve your own writing.


That last chapter is so true! I have experience of that fact. And once you learn to know someone and his or her weak spots, crits become easier. Don't ask why or how, but in my opinion that is the way it is. Sorry this rambling, but I had to get this off my chest. Thanks for reading this far.

Summerwriter
09-28-2011, 04:38 AM
Entry into a critique-partner arrangement shouldn't feel like a tricky chore. There's enough doubt in the original post that I'd vote to move on.

I dare to say I'd do the same. I mean I'd vote to move on and leave that lady alone.