Writing Ranting – Getting Feedback – Critiques

I cannot stress enough the importance of getting feedback on your novel, especially with so many indie authors breaking the stigma of “my mum loved it, so I published it”. It’s time we changed that, and I’m seeing more and more indie authors become successful because they put the effort into their books and listen to others’ opinions when it comes to feedback whether it’s writers or readers.

I’m going to talk about critique partners, alpha and beta readers, and ARC readers for the next few posts to show the importance of understanding the differences and choosing the right feedback for you. Note: ARCs don’t give feedback but are important to the pre-publishing process and for future projects, so I’ve included them in this mini series.

What is a critique partner and when do you need one?

  • Critique partners can give feedback at any point in your project’s journey.
  • It’s usually another writer and you often swap manuscripts.
  • You can ask for specific type of feedback from light comments on the story and characters to in-depth analysis of your writing and structures.
  • They offer constructive feedback based on their writing and reading experiences or their familiarity with the current market. They don’t have to be published to be experienced.
  • They can be extra helpful to bounce ideas off and create a supportive and friendly relationship.
  • They can give you an outside perspective while appreciating your intentions for your book.

What you need to do as a writer

  • While critique partners expect unpolished work, it’s beneficial to do a decent spelling edit before sending it out.
  • Send it in small chucks so your CPs can go through it bit-by-bit. It takes a good while to critique a chapter, so be mindful of this.
  • Be very clear on what type of feedback you want. Reactions, plot issues, general understanding. 

I’ve had mixed experiences with critiques, some good, but some extremely frustrating. I don’t mean that I couldn’t handle their feedback. I mean that they gave me the exact opposite kind of feedback that I asked for like picking out typos but not commenting on anything to do with the story or characters.

In the early stages of a writing project, I tend to prefer very light feedback to be sure I’m heading in the right direction or someone to sum up if there are ongoing issues. There’s no point in editing every other line or pointing out typos all the time when it might get rewritten anyway. It’s just a waste of time.

As for later in the game, if someone is rewriting every other sentence because they don’t write in my style, then that’s wasting time too. I’ve had this happen to me and others even though there’s nothing wrong with the style and someone is just lording themselves over others because they published one book 8 years ago and haven’t had the imagination or skill to do it again. Ugh. Rude.

I doubt I’ll go for critique partners again in favour of alpha readers, which I’ll be talking about next week. But I’m glad I got them in the early years. I would recommend any new writer get critique partners to learn from either through helpful advice suited to your project or knowing what to ignore when you’ve found a style you like.


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