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Crit as you write, or finish first?
Marshall R Maresca
Posted: Thursday, May 5, 2011 4:37 AM
Joined: 3/7/2011
Posts: 56

I know a lot of people prefer to have their crit partners read a chapter at a time, and they keep writing and handing off new chapters to their readers, so the process of writing the first draft is intrinsically woven with the critique process. 

Others, like me, don't want to show it to anyone until it's a finished draft, front to back.  Then your work can be reviewed as a complete document.

So what do you all prefer?

Rik Roots
Posted: Thursday, May 5, 2011 10:14 AM
Joined: 5/2/2011
Posts: 14

Do you know, I've never even thought about getting myself a crit partner. For the most part I just write chapters and then post the results to online venues (like this one) - what little feedback comes my way is always gratefully received.

Does everyone else have a crit partner?
Ellie Isis
Posted: Thursday, May 5, 2011 11:58 AM
Joined: 3/4/2011
Posts: 60

I think many writers have crit partners. I have lots of them at a wide variety of levels from new writers to published authors and from all walks of life and career paths.

Personally, I do both the chapter-by-chapter method and the full manuscript. I have one set of crit partners for chapter-by-chapter. That way if something major goes awry early in the book, a crit partner can catch it, and I can straighten it out before getting so far in that fixing the problem becomes impossible. Once the book is completed, I give it to a different set of crit partners for the overall picture.
Posted: Thursday, May 5, 2011 1:46 PM
Joined: 3/13/2011
Posts: 245

I don't have set crit partners. With my latest book that I finished, I went through and polished it, made sure there weren't any glaring plot holes, etc, so it was technically a second draft that I sent to a reader. After letting the manuscript sit for a while, I convinced another writer friend to read it for me. After that, I went through and made some pretty drastic cuts and revisions and polished it off for another writer friend I talked into reading for me.

Crit relationships that I've entered into haven't usually worked out. Does it suck to feel like I'm doing something wrong because it seems like every writer out there has an awesome crit group and a standard set of beta readers that they just have to say, "It's in your inbox" rather than "Would you be willing to read for me?" Yes, it does. But it's a process that works for me right now.
Ellie Isis
Posted: Friday, May 6, 2011 12:14 AM
Joined: 3/4/2011
Posts: 60

Steph, if it makes you feel any better, the crit group I'm currently in was my second. The first was a really poor match for me, and I'm told that many writers go through a lot more groups before finding their perfect match.

In addition, my current group has whittled itself down from maybe 15 members to a core group of five with a trio of others who come on and off. It takes a lot of time to find that 'just right" group of people.

And my second round beta readers? They took years to cultivate. (Well, not counting the hubby, who is also a writer and a fantastic crit partner.) One is a former agent's assistant who is now a published author. We networked via her blog and email for almost a year before working out a manuscript swap. Now we trade all our manuscripts. Another I met at a conference. We sat next to each other and hit it off.

I was also fortunate enough to befriend a couple of authors early in their careers who will read troublesome chapters for me and make suggestions. But again, building those friendships to the point where I could ask them to read me took months/years.

Regardless, if a system of writing is working for you, then that's, of course, the system you should stick with.
Robert C Roman
Posted: Friday, May 13, 2011 10:06 PM
Joined: 3/12/2011
Posts: 383

I finish the whole thing, but that's only because before I put pen to page I've generally got a significant amount of plot critting done with a couple friends who are good at spotting plot holes. Thus far I've only had to do ONE complete rewrite. Not bad given how many words and stories I've told.

As for crit partners, I have beta readers, some of whom I beta read for. I'm not a terribly good beta reader, either, sadly, for a variety of reasons, but I do try. Some of my beta readers are *incredible*. I don't belong to a crit group, and I'm not sure how I'd find one. One of the reasons I'm a bad beta reader is that I tend to hit nerves entirely by accident. *shrug*
Posted: Sunday, May 29, 2011 12:15 AM
Joined: 5/8/2011
Posts: 52

I usually trade if I have someone to trade with. I'm a pantser so it helps to have someone I can chat with when I get stuck who is familiar with what I have so far. I don't think one way is better than the other. I've also written first and traded later, and that's been fine, too. Either way, I do need crits after it's done, even if I get crits as I go along
Posted: Friday, August 12, 2011 1:22 AM
Joined: 3/31/2011
Posts: 5

The novel I'm currently querying had both. My core group of 4 beta readers read each chapter as I finished (3 of them are primarily proofreaders, while 1 acts as more of an editor), and after I finished, I found a crit partner who read the entire thing as a whole (and he is a-maz-ing -- retired English teacher and a good writer in his own right who always has good editorial suggestions).

I'm not sure one is better than the other, but it's helpful to have feedback each chapter as well as an opinion about the full novel.

I've been looking for a crit group that meets locally but I haven't found one yet. I'd start one myself, but I have no idea how to run it.
Michelle Mills
Posted: Friday, August 12, 2011 11:35 PM
Joined: 7/21/2011
Posts: 41

I prefer receiving critiques as I go along. Constructive feedback is invaluable, and to hear from a reader: "I love your story; I couldn't put it down! Hurry up and write some more!" is incredibly motivating.
Laura Dwyer
Posted: Tuesday, January 10, 2012 4:06 PM
Joined: 1/10/2012
Posts: 192

Personally, I like to give my crit partner one chapter at a time. That way, I can get feedback before I have written more and make changes, instead of having to go back through the whole work and do all of it at once. This way, I learn as I go. At least, that's what I hope.
Also, I'm too impatient with myself to finish and then get critiqued, and enjoy the feedback too much to put it off until the very end!
Alexandria Brim
Posted: Tuesday, February 21, 2012 5:07 AM
Joined: 10/20/2011
Posts: 353

I tend to get crit as I write. I find it helps me if I need to correct something along the way. Like when I started posting "The Wedding Game" here on Book Country. I hadn't really settled on a time to set my story, though I knew it was medieval. When the first reviewers asked for clarification the setting because my traditions seemed to be a mish-mosh of various centuries, I decided to set concentrate on a particular setting and I feel it has helped.

I have different people reading this story as well as everyone on this site. When I do finish a full manuscript, I plan to find a professional proofreader to look it over for me as well.
Alexander Hollins
Posted: Tuesday, February 21, 2012 11:21 AM
Joined: 3/13/2011
Posts: 416

my current wips get posted online, I have a few readers that comment as it goes up.  I do have a novel that I intend to write fully before putting out there. I may need to get a crit partner... hmmm.

Laura Dwyer
Posted: Monday, March 5, 2012 3:33 PM
Joined: 1/10/2012
Posts: 192

Alexander - Funny, I'm looking for one, too, since mine is a bit distracted right now being pregnant. Let me know if you wanna be partners in writing crime! It has been pretty tough self-crit-ing. Well, let's face it: damn near impossible, since I can't even self-edit well. Anyhoo...
Alexander Hollins
Posted: Tuesday, March 13, 2012 7:04 PM
Joined: 3/13/2011
Posts: 416

sure, but i warn you, i write EVERYTHING, and sporadically. right now, most of my writing time is writing script for a webcomic.

Laura Dwyer
Posted: Wednesday, March 14, 2012 9:38 AM
Joined: 1/10/2012
Posts: 192

Alexander - when you say EVERYTHING, you mean every genre? Or you're just extremely verbose? I'm not sure of the minor ins and outs of being a crit partner, but I can certainly offer constructive criticism, in turn for yours. Just let me know. I'm here.
Alexander Hollins
Posted: Wednesday, March 14, 2012 7:01 PM
Joined: 3/13/2011
Posts: 416

Heh, I mean every genre.

Posted: Saturday, December 21, 2013 1:22 PM

As for critique partners, I say too many chefs spoil the soup. A first draft, that bottomless pit containing everything imagined, should not be read by anybody. Editing should be completely avoided in the first draft. If there is not a significant time lag between writing and editing, the book will remain an extended twilight of broken dreams.Assuming three drafts, the author should submit a completed second draft to a competent, trusted proofreader. The third draft, the one ready for prime time, could be read by a critique group for that final polishing. Stephen King uses a trusted group of readers, including his wife, to pass judgement on his latest work. If they give thumbs down, he won't publish.

We should never forget the lone wolf element in writing. Books are written by solitary individuals, not committees. As you might have heard, a camel is the result of a committee trying to invent a horse.


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