Searching for Crit Partners…How? Who? Where? Why?

April 13, 2011

In a few short months (like two) I will be finished my novel. At least that’s the plan. Lately I’ve been writing like a fiend to make this happen, not because anyone’s making me do it, but because I made this #writegoal for myself and I intend to keep it. It’s the whole point of setting a writing goal: so I honour my commitment to myself.

And truly, it seems quite possible I’ll do it…the end is in sight…! *applause* *cheering*

Already I’m thinking about how it will feel to finally cross that finish line, to write the last, pithy line to a 10 year labour of love. I expect I’ll cry a little, do a little dance, tweet it out, facebook it, call everyone I know and shout it to the rooftops: I DID IT!

Then, after about five minutes of that, I’ll turn my attention to stage 2. Editing.

How I wish I could just press ‘send’ and have my novel magically appear in the #1 spot of the best sellers list! But, alas, it is not that easy. After sweating and bleeding out a first draft…I now must sweat and bleed out a second draft.


Ok. So I can do a spell check no problem, I can probably even plug enough caffine into my system to work my way though a grammar check (they’re, their, there…who, whom…its, it’s–finding these in a block of text is the best cure for insomnia, I swear!).

But as to the rest of it–I could honestly use some help!

Someone who can read it through and is willing to say more than just: great! well done! I love it! Because they don’t want to make me feel bad.

I need honest input. I need someone who will tell me great, well done, I love it–AND also pick it apart, tear it to shreds, tell me everything that’s wrong with it–so that I can fix it and make it better!

These are the things I need them to tell me:

You said he took off his jacket. So how can he put the letter in his jacket pocket later on?

I can’t understand who’s saying what in this dialogue! Is the the guy? the girl? the dog? Who?!

This scene makes no sense. Why is he telling a ghost story? Who cares?

THEN I can finally see about getting it published…!

So…who do I get to do this? Sure, I can lasso my family and friends into doing it. But there’s obvious limits to that. They don’t want to hurt my feelings, for one. And I don’t want them to feel beholdened to me to do it just because I ask, that’s two.

But if I want someone else to do it (for free), someone I’m not related to or know well…how do I figure that out? Do I randomly select names from the phonebook? Do I put a help wanted sign up at the local grocery store?!

I know Twitter’s writing community is probably a good place to find critique readers, but…and here’s the rub: HOW DO I TRUST THESE PEOPLE? No offence, but I only know you from your tweets, your twitter name and your profile picture (which could be photoshopped, for gods sake!). Yes, I’ve built up relationships with some fabulous people on Twitter …but….but…

Can I ask them for a resume? References?

My novel is my baby! It’s like the first time I sent my child to daycare. It was tough to let go, but I knew I had given a lot of thought into my decision and it was sound. I did the research, toured the facility, met everyone , got references, talked to those who also had brought their babies there before…

Does this hold true to the writing world?

Writers, how did you find your crit partners and beta readers? If you’ve been down this road and survived, can you help a sister-in-writing out here and let me in on your secret?!



  1. I actually haven’t been successful in finding any crit partners online yet. I’ve tried, but everyone I’ve found through the internet has expected me to spend a lot of time critting their stuff and then has put nothing into mine or flaked out after the first few chapters. I’ve pretty much given up on the search for now.

    • I’m sorry to hear it’s been so difficult! I’ve picked up that sense you speak of, of needing to ‘trade off’. I’ve heard it go both ways: it can be a really fantastic experience–or not.

      I guess its a matter of finding the right match. This is what I’m so scared about! I can’t hand over my novel to just anyone…I feel very protective–though maybe I’ll get over that and reach a point where I’ll be giving it to the check out clerk at the connivence store, paying them 10$ to read it over on their lunch break. I might reach that level at some point…

      It also sounds like one enters into a ‘crit partnership’ with really clear expectations on the outset…does this mean one must create a contract? (I am only half joking!)

      Who knows? Perhaps we might become crit partners? Something to investigate/discuss perhaps, when I actually finish the thing!

      Thanks for dropping by Ruth!
      Julie J.

  2. Here are a couple of resources for you:


    It can be scary cold emailing people, so whatever approach you take, be sure to build in a trial period and be up front about your expectations. Best of luck!

    • Thanks! Those links look very helpful. I appreciate your dropping by!
      Julie J.

  3. The best way to find critique partners is to be willing to be one, but with a group who won’t flake (as the previous commenter noted). I joined my writer’s group several years ago, and we’re incredibly tight-knit now, built on trust and understanding of each others’ weaknesses, both personal and as writers. (It started out in person, but now that I changed coasts, they keep me on via Skype video conferencing.) They’ve been my toughest critics, but always helpful because they genuinely care about me and want my writing to be the best it can be.

    Having said that, I’d be happy to do an exchange with you, I’ll read yours and critique if you’ll read mine! 🙂

    • I love the idea of a writers group, I just never knew how to get one started or find one…and with Skype, it sounds like it doesn’t even have to be local, which means perhaps it could grow from Twitter connections? Hmmm. There’s an idea!

      As to your suggestion for an exchange, awesome! When I’m done, I will be sure to get in contact (Ok, so now I REALLY need to get it done!)

      Many thanks for dropping by!
      Julie J.

  4. Heh. I’d love to read it, but I know that I’m not the best at critiquing. It’s partly experience, but it’s also that I’ve got a lot on my plate right now, just landed a writing job (online computer magazine).

    But I’m going to suggest that you logon to Web Lit Canada (disclosure – I run the site) where we are trying to develop a community of Canadian writers to help each other with things like this.


  5. Thanks, Wayne! I will check out Web Lit.

    Thx for dropping by!

    Julie J.

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