AHA · Authors Helping Authors · Editing/Proofreading

“What to Look for in a Critique Partner” by Stephanie Haefner

smileyfacereadingbookEvery writer needs feedback on their work from other people. It’s a necessary part of the process. A writer is far too close to their own work to see its flaws and holes. A writer cannot always see their weaknesses and crutches. And we ALL have them. No one can put out the best product possible without help.


This is why it’s so important to network and find other writers and critique partners. Whether you do it on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or in your local community. Every writer needs the writing community. Even those who have been published several times.

I know it’s not easy to send your baby off to some stranger, and I don’t recommend that. It’s important to find critique partners that are perfect for you. People you have some kind of relationship with, even if only online. Here are a few of my tips for finding the very best ones.

– Find partners who write what you write. I think it’s very necessary to critique with someone who understands your genre and knows what to look for in a proper plot. Genres vary and what works for one may not work for others.

– Find partners who have experience. It’s probably a good idea to critique with someone who has the same level as experience as you, or more. Learn everything you can from those who know more. I know lots of writers who love to help those who are just starting out. Even if it’s just a chapter or two. It’s amazing what little things can be corrected there that can be applied to the entire manuscript. I do it. I love to help when I can and kinda pay it forward. I wouldn’t be where I am without the help I received early on.

– Find partners who will be tough. Gushing and unending praise do not help you perfect your craft. A writer NEEDS to know what they are doing wrong. If your chosen critique partners are too shy to tell you the truth, they are doing you an injustice. It’s great to hear when people like your stuff…if feels awesome. But if they are holding back in fear of hurting your feelings, you will never learn what you are doing wrong.

– Find a couple non-writers to read your work too. I love having a mix of beta readers. My writer friends are great at pointing out plot inconsistencies, grammar, genre issues, etc.. But my non-writer betas, who read just to read and relax and escape, I love their input too. They are great at pointing out spots that are confusing. They give me a great idea of what the readers like.

~~~~~~~~~~Stephanie Haefner is a multi-published contemporary romance author, PRO member of RWA, and secretary for the Western NY Romance Writers. Visit her website at www.stephaniehaefnerthewriter.com or follow her on Twitter at @stephanihaefner

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6 thoughts on ““What to Look for in a Critique Partner” by Stephanie Haefner

  1. Very good advice! This looks like an excellent resource site and I appreciate the work you all have put into it.

    Sometimes finding beta readers can be difficult. Few people I know off-line want to read anything, and those who did in the past won’t look at anything now because they think I’m still writing the way I did fifteen years ago. The latter is probably just an excuse to back out, but it’s a little hurtful to to hear them say they don’t think I could have improved in all that time.

    Thank God for writers’ forums!


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