Thursday, May 17, 2012

Capilocks and the Three Critique Partners

Once upon a time, there lived a young writer with stories worth gold bouncing from her head. She dreamed of an amazing house—a publishing house that would take her manuscript all the way to Happily Ever After. So after Capilocks trudged through the Forest of Revision, she set out to find a critique partner that was juuuuuuust right.
The first partner she found was a tough one. He flashed his red Sharpie and laughed a maniacal laugh as he slayed each sentence and made them his own. He belittled her ideas, told her to only write to the trends, and tweeted mean things about her crappy first drafts.

Capilocks shuddered. “This relationship is too hard.” She wished him well, gathered her tattered ego, and backed away.
The next partner she found was quite cuddly. She dotted her I’s with smileys and hearts, embraced every adverb, and proclaimed, “Brilliant! Send it!” whenever Capilocks scribbled out a new manuscript on the back of a phone message. Capilocks liked this new partner. She never criticized and always encouraged, but Capilocks' stories were still rather suckish.
“This critiquer is too soft,” she said. Capilocks looked around for someone new.
At last, she landed in a relationship with a fabulous writer and caring soul—someone who wanted her to succeed, but wasn’t afraid to ask tough questions. Someone who encouraged her voice, but hid the postage stamps and guarded the send button until manuscripts were polished and prime.
“This critique relationship is just right,” said Capilocks. And it was.
I’ve been blessed to work with some amazing critique partners and dodged a few that didn’t work for me. Where do you go to find great critique partners? Do you ever find it’s tough to critique in a way that’s juuuuust right? Please share in the comments below.


  1. I connected with my critique group through SCBWI. I clicked with a writer I met over lunch at a regional conference, emailed her to see how her manuscript was going, and ended up joining a new group she was starting. We've been together for years now. I love these gals and we know we have each others' backs.

  2. This is My new fave post on cirque partners! I have to say that I am blessed to have you in my corner and hope you know how much if a blessing you are. We all
    Need to be like the third critique bear in your story. Sometimes it is hard... But we all need it!

  3. Donna- Your critiques definitely fall in the "juuuust right" category. I'm glad you're in my corner too!

  4. It's always tough to critique "just right" I think. But I made a comittment to myself and to God that I will always be both kind and truthful when I critique. I tell people that upfront before I critique their work.

    Then I remind them that my remarks and sugestions are just that -- suggestions. And that they are my thoughts about their story. I always tell them to go with their own gut. Consider what I say, but go with their own plans and intentions.

    I've been critiquing other writers' works for about 8 years now, and I've had only one who got defensive and angry.

    I believe the truth is always best.


  5. Jean- Beautifully said.

    I try to give the sort of feedback I'd want to receive. I want my manuscripts to be the best they can be before I send them out, so that means I need to be willing to stare down the imperfections and fix what needs to be fixed.

    I have unintentionally hurt feelings though, when a friend wanted to hear that her story was ready, and I offered a different view.

  6. I love this post! Capilocks... you are so creative :)

    I've got an online critique group that I met through a conference and a local group that meets in person. If one ever leans a little too Papa Bear or Mama Bear, I take my manuscript to the other group for a boost of needed encouragement or harder critical eye. They balance each other well and add up to two wonderful Baby Bear critique groups.

  7. This is just great! Totally loving it.
    Is it alright if I repost it?

  8. Laura- Thanks! Sounds like you've found your "just right."

    Jenni- Thank you! And yes, you can repost it. I'd love that. :)