Monday, January 17, 2011

Do They Have for Critique Partners?

Now that Indivisible is done, and edited and ready to go next week, it occurred to me that now I have to start working on the next book in the series! I have no idea of where to even start...

I mean I know what the next story will be, and I have the whole plot laid out in my head, with tiny clips of scenes scribbled in a notebook, but I don't know how to get myself to actually sit down and start writing a book again. I started writing Indivisible over 2 years ago. When I started writing it, I had two people who I trusted to tell me the truth about my writing reading everything that I wrote. Now, they have busy lives and we don't talk much, so I can't ask them.

I'm a deadline kind of person. In everything in life, I do so much better when I have someone that I'm accountable to and a time that a project needs to be completed by. This is for everything from cleaning my house to planning a party. I do my best work under pressure. I can clean the entire house quicker and better when I know that my in-laws will be arriving in 3 hours than I can when I have all day while the kids are at school. And it seems that my writing works the same way.

So, I decided that February 1st is my deadline to actually sit down and start writing. My kids go back to school tomorrow (YAY!!) and that should give me enough time to get all the stuff done I haven't since before Christmas, and set up my office (on a side note - don't forget on the 31st of this month the TEAM TOPIC will be where we write! I'll be showing some pictures of my NEW office!).

Besides getting my house in order, I decided that I needed to find someone to kick my butt and call me out when I'm slacking. I emailed the group of authors at Omnific, that are like a small family to me, and asked if there was anyone who would volunteer for the job. Immediately I got responses from pretty much every one of the authors offering to help (I suspect that part of that is the opportunity to kick my butt!!) I am so lucky to have a pool of people that I can go to for this kind of help.

That got me thinking, and I wanted to know what all of them did for motivation and feed back and how their process worked. Most of them are in the middle of their second or, in some cases, third books so I knew that they had to have overcome this problem that I was having. The answers that I got back made me realize that I wasn't alone in needing the feedback to keep me motivated.

Author of Life, Liberty and Pursuit, Susan Kaye Quinn said, "My critique process has evolved over time. When I’m doing a rough draft, I have a critique group that I will send my chapters to (once a week on our submission day). They give great feedback and encouragement about the direction of the story and whether things are making sense. When I finish a rough draft, I’ll go back and do another draft, fixing things, resculpting, and including everyone’s feedback. Then I’ll send out that second draft to a couple critique partners who will read the entire MS and give me feedback on story, motivations, anything and everything. Then I’ll revise again, and send out to another set of critique partners. Rinse, repeat, as many times as necessary, until I’m satisfied the thing is ready to go!"

Jennifer DeLucy, author of The Light Series confirmed the need for honesty in a critique partner. "Now, for book three, I have a more formal critique person that I send an updated copy of the manuscript to every so often. She is very familiar with the first two books so she makes notes about plot questions and possible issues and stuff she thinks the readers would want more of, etc. It's a really good thing! And to think, it hasn't even gone through editing yet! lol. I really like the idea of a trusted critique partner, but I think it would need to be someone who would 1. care about the book/books that came prior and 2. be truly honest with me."

Other responses that I received, indicated that there really isn't a formal process for people, or even a particular time that they send their work to their critique group or partner. Nicki Elson commented that rather than going chapter by chapter, she has large segments finished before sending them to her critique partner. And both Carol Oates told me that since she tends to write out of order (which I'm going to have to explore in further detail, because that boggles my mind!! HAHA!!) it is hard to work on a one for one basis, but that she uses trusted people to help her along the way.

While everyone has a different method, from group critique to quid pro quo, it seems that having that HONEST feedback from people that you trust serves not only to hold the author to some sort of schedule (one thing that Jennifer Lane , like myself likes about using a critique group), but also it helps them to work the story into the best version possible.

So, now that I have several people to choose from, I may actually be able to get started on Jaylon and Zoe's story...oops! Did I say too much?

PS - don't forget to comment to be entered in the drawing for signed copy of Indivisible (and some extras too!) then click on the little button up top and get in on the Goodreads drawing too!!


  1. Hi Jessica, thanks for sharing what authors do regarding finding critique partners. We really do need a system!

  2. So, I intend to buy Indivisible when it comes out, but I want mine signed, dangit! I think that we'll have to do some kind of mail swap.

    I also think its mind-boggling to write a book out of order. It is cool sometimes to jump ahead and jot down a scene when you're inspired and don't want to forget, but I don't know that I could jump back and forth. I'm kind scatterbrained for that. ;) Great post!

  3. (I'm sorry if this is a double, but I think I messed up before)

    Love the title of this! for critique partners is a GREAT idea! Oh, and I'm the other one who writes stories out of order. Chapter 28 was the first one written in Three Daves. I tend to write the key scenes first and then revise constantly as the story builds around them. Makes it difficult to work w/ a critique partner, because he hints for more, but I don't want to give away my secrets!

  4. So, I probably the only one of us who has actually been on, lol. It's how I met my lovely other half some years ago. It's a long story but I can confirm that match does work and so why not for critique partners? :-) It's a great idea.
    I call writing out of order my Bill and Ted process. It allows me to hop back and forward in time to add hints of information the reader won't find until later and build the story that way.

  5. I commented on the first post, but I wanted to be sure you got mine for the contest. Thankyou for doing this!

    My sister has been my sounding board so far as my writing goes. Any ideas I have they go through her first and are fleshed out even more so.