In a recent post on this site, I said that if you want to write for publication, you should get in the habit of submitting your work for critique, specifically, to someone (or several someones) with an analytical eye. And I promised to explain more about that in my next blog post. So, here we are.
Many blog posts ago, I told the story (here) of how I discovered my “perfect critique partner,” Annie. She’s had a big head ever since, so I won’t retell that gripping, insightful, entertaining story. But I will go into more detail about what I mean when I say, “Find someone with an analytical eye to critique your writing.” Obviously, the term refers to an ability to see and to analyze a thing. A problem, perhaps. A possibility. A situation. A work of art. An analytical eye can be applied to a movie plot, a machine that isn’t working, or a political argument (not that we have any of those in our current culture). Such a person doesn’t have to be a fellow writer, though it certainly doesn’t hurt if he or she is. It’s not necessarily writing (or even editing) skills you’re searching for, but a way of looking at and evaluating things.
So, if you’re looking for a critique partner (or two or three), here’s a checklist of ten things you might keep in mind. The kind of person you’re looking for is probably:
- Someone who can be objective, separating you from your writing (i.e., not your mom or spouse)
- Someone who isn’t easy (or eager) to please, doesn’t like everything
- Someone who isn’t overly critical, doesn’t hate everything
- Someone who has some familiarity, at least, with your genre
- Someone who knows her own mind, what she likes and dislikes
- Someone who can appropriately and cogently express her likes and dislikes
- Someone who can explain not only that she likes or dislikes something, but also why, sorting and separating good and bad, strong and weak, effective and ineffective, etc. (as opposed to giving a general, blanket approval or disapproval)
- Someone who can set aside her own biases or preferences in order to fairly evaluate something
- Someone who can anticipate how others—especially those unlike herself—might react to something
- Someone who can discern and express how something could be corrected or improved
Did anyone come to mind as you read through the checklist? If so, that might be a person worth approaching about initiating a partnership. If not, you might start praying for God to open your eyes to people around you and perhaps shine a light on those who have an analytical eye.