Thursday, January 1, 2015

2015 Critique Partner Love Connection

It's time for some hook-ups. Namely, the 2015 Critique Partner Love Connection.

As many of you already know, I have two critique partners (Tessa Gratton and Brenna Yovanoff) whom I love dearly. For the last 6+ years, they've read everything I wrote before my editor ever got a look at it. Tessa and Brenna critique, suggest, support, and mock whenever I need critique, suggestions, support, or mockery. Our critique group is the result of a long search — I went through numerous writers' groups and one-on-one readers, and always felt that the edits were missing something. I wanted to be critiqued, and yet I never wanted to act upon the critiques I got. It took me a long time to realize that I needed to find critique partners who enjoyed the same sort of story-telling that I did; critique partners who weren't always suggesting that I turn my novel into the sort of novel that I didn't want to write. Also critique partners who communicated in the same way as me — we do everything via gchat, informally, without structure or rules.

So. I found Tessa and Brenna by posting a match-up exactly like this one, and every year since then, I've done a match-up for others to use. In the years in between, other resources for crit partners have appeared on the internet, and I keep thinking I'll stop getting requests to post one here. If anything, the requests have multiplied. Possibly it's because the most difficult part of the critique partner search remains the task of finding a human who enjoys the same sorts of story-telling as you — maybe the mere fact of having me in common maybe takes some of that odiousness away. Whatever the reason, I keep getting asked, so here it is.

Here are the rules, such as I ever have rules:

STEP ONE: Post a comment saying the age range (adult, YA, MG) of your project, a brief, one-sentence blurb about your book (or just the genre if you don’t want to share more than that), and whether or not you have an agent, etc.*. Also include the last book you read that you loved and also the book you feel epitomizes you as a reader. If you write in a language other than English, include that info with the language in all caps so it's easy to find while skimming the comments. Finish with a way to contact you.

*You don't have to include the agent/ publication information unless it's important to you to find a critique partner who is also agented/ published. I was agented/ published when I met Tessa/ Brenna; they were not. It depends on the sort of support you're looking for.

STEP TWO: If someone else in the comments sounds like a possible match, send them a message saying so and find out if it’s mutual. If it is, exchange the first 50 pages of your manuscripts, critique them, and return said critiques. If either of you doesn’t feel like the crit relationship is working at that point, you get to smile and say thanks and walk away without any questions asked. This is VERY IMPORTANT. This ability to shake hands and part ways without hard feelings is the reason why this process works. Sometimes it takes a few exchanges before you realize it's not a good match. Don't feel pressured into sticking with each other — remember that this is honest speed dating and a 'not for me!' is not a rejection based upon merit. 

NOTE: I myself am not looking for critters. Two partners is enough for me — I can’t keep up with anymore. I recommend definitely two or three partners for best results. That way when someone says “this sucks!” and someone else says “does not!” you can be the tie breaker. But if they both say “this sucks!” and you say “does not!” it means you’re wrong.

FURTHER NOTE: I don't read the comments, really. My imaginary assistant Halfred and I monitor them infrequently only for spam-deletion purposes.

I'll be mirroring this post on my website, Facebook, and Tumblr, so check the other comments there as well.

It delights me when writers come up through my signing line and let me know they met their critique partners through me. I can't imagine writing professionally without Tessa and Brenna, so it's nice to think I can pay that forward. Happy hunting.


Anita Saxena said...

I'm working on a YA Fantasy currently, but I also write MG. I have an agent.
I love stories that are unique and strange like Maggie's. My favorite reads in 2014 were These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman & Megan Spooner and the Raven Cycle books by the one only Maggie Stiefvater.

DM Jones said...

I think my post from yesterday has mysteriously vanished. As well as several others. They all decided to take a New Year trip.

DM Jones said...

Re-posting -

Hello all! I write within a variety of genres. The two projects I'm hoping to find a CP for are:

The Three Year War (YA, Sci-Fi) - New age witch hunt for the mentally unstable within what used to be North America.

Montgomery's Diary (New Adult, Sci-Fi, Fantasy) - Schizophrenic actress attends a couple's retreat only to become trapped on an island that won't let her go.

I don't have an agent. And I had a pretty rough reading year last year (only got in about 12 books) but a few books I liked from last year were The Golem & The Jinni, The Evolution of Mara Dyer, and Blue Lily, Lily Blue.

I can be reached via gmail at :)

Giovanna Adams said...

Re-Post... I'm currently working on a YA Urban fantasy and a Time Travel Contemporary Fantasy. I'm also attempting to plot a MG/Urban Fantasy. The main novel I am working on involves shape-shifting teens living in an abandoned amusement park. The monsters that they change in to have to do with how they died. Their quiet existence is shaken up a bit with one meets a human.

I am a children's book illustrator and have been published, but not as an author.

The last 2 books that I've read and loved are The Ocean at the End of the Lane and Scorpio Races.

You can contact me via email

joy said...

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Harrison Aye said...

Yo, I’m David (Harrison is my pen name). I’m writing a fantasy that is sort of like Game of Thrones meets The Dark Tower but for the YA crowd. My book, The Unraveler, is about a young Prince that meets a skeletal rat on a quest to cure a plague. No agent, yet.

I’m looking for a critique partner over the age of 21 (I’m 28) and only for other writers who want criticism in return (not just readers). I write novel-length work, and I love blunt/honest criticism rather than being buttered up. Finally, I would love to find someone in the St. Louis-area, because it would be awesome to be able to meet up at a cafĂ© and talk.

Contact me by email:
see more about me at:

Judith Boswell said...

Hello, I write YA and mystery. I self publish and I NaNo, but for the remaining eleven months of the year it's just me and my inflated ego. I am a character driven writer, and humor is my favorite story telling device. Also dialogue - perhaps too much dialogue. I love Nick Hornby and Dave Eggers, but I'm not sure I sound like either one. I'm looking for critique partners who are unpublished or self-published and want to mature as writers, because that's where I'm at right now.
My email is judith.m.boswell at gmail

Carrie-Anne said...

I write 20th century historical, both adult and YA-ish (with young main characters but not specifically intended as YA). I tend towards family and town sagas. I most would appreciate a CP for my secondary WIP, an alternative history set from 1918–45. Tagline: A sickly, unexpected boy Tsar defies expectations by surviving into adulthood with much-improved health, and breaks with draconian Imperial traditions to become the most beloved ruler in history.

My favorite book read in 2014 might be Charles R. Pellegrino's Last Train from Hiroshima. The book that epitomizes me as a reader is probably my all-time favorite, Hermann Hesse's Demian.

I like friendly but honest critiques. I'm not a fan of the modern trend of ripping everything apart and only mentioning what you hated. I want strengths and questions pointed out, with suggestions for how to make something clearer or more detailed, instead of told I need to rewrite something the way another person would've written it.

Maddie Hand said...

Hi everyone! I'm a young writer. seriously, I'm 16. I love reading so last year I wrote a novel and I am currently writing a second, following on from the first.

It's YA, sci-fi with a little romance. It's about a young alien girl trying to live a normal human life. It's about her relationships with other characters and how they change throughout the story. It involves bullying and my hope was that the people who read it would be able to be more aware of others and their actions.

I am looking for a critique partner because I want to be able to improve my writing and my critiquing.
Contact me at:

My favourite books are: Shiver by Maggie steifvater, The Host by stephanie Myer, Wonder by R.J palicio, Tiger's Curse by Colleen Houck

I also like movies (love the breakfast Club), fairytales (beauty and the beast) and greek mythology.

Leslie Lim said...

Those look interesting. Keep posting.


Carey Blankenship said...

Hey guys! I thought I'd post on here, because I am looking for a better community in my life with people who write and share a love of the craft. I am currently writing YA novels, and I have several projects on board. One is a multi-perspective novel dwelling on the different sides of war and how friendship and family prevail even during the most violent of times. Another is about the truth of magic and legend and how believing in them can affect your destiny. Those are very vague details, but if you'd like to hear more I'd be happy to share! I am not agented, but I have begun the journey of this. The book I just recently finished is called Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel. Check it out if you haven't heard about it! It's absolutely brilliant. Hope to hear from you!

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