Sunday, December 22, 2013

The Gift of a Perfect Match: 4 Keys to Finding a Compatible Critique Partner (Part DOS)

A She said-she said account—Pepper and Amy Style
On Friday Amy and I talked about the first 2 elements involved in making a 'perfect match' for Crit Partners. Today we're going to finish up with 2 more elements to making that match :-)

Feedback Match:

PB: Ooo, this one gets a bit tricksy. Taking constructive feedback always is! First off, if you’ve established the first two ‘matches’ (writing and personality) it makes this last one fit much better!! Finding a ‘match’ for feedback is vital for our mutual growth as writers and story-creators. Ames is a very DIRECT feedback giver, but she tags on a ‘honey’ or ‘sugar’ to make the medicine go down J I also can take the word-slashing better because the first two ‘matches’ are already in place. The great thing about our match is that our skills are pretty similar too. We have some mutual weaknesses (overwriting being one), but we also have strengths/weaknesses which complement each other. A CP pairing is really about complimenting, critiquing, and conversing. (How’d you like that alliteration, Ames?) (You know I’m all over that!)

ALS: I’m with ya, Pep. Feedback is so important, but how we digest it depends very heavily on the source. I am quite direct, and I give very detailed feedback because I know you can take it. If I’m going to invest my time in your stories, I want you to have an all-access pass to my head. (As scary as that may be sometimes!) But instead of only pinpointing trouble spots, I balance it to include what I like. A lot of people, myself included, need that positive reinforcement to help see where the tension breaks for the reader, where they laugh or start swooning over the hero. I need to know these things, but very often critiquers don’t include this very critical information. (You do this quite well!)

I suppose there are some writers who are more secure and might not need it. But I do. Which is a main reason why I hack and I dote. I want Pepper to know that though my knives are sharp and ready, since I am so invested in her stories and in her dreams, the bottom line is… I want to bolster her confidence. See her grow. Have her put out the best story she is capable of telling. (Which is a
pretty darn good one!) I am, after all, her biggest fan!

Right back atcha, girlfriend!! I LOVE gushing over, praising, and refining Amy's fantastic stories to be her best! (Not that I ever had to do very much to them AT ALL!!!) Notice my font is GREEN....there's a definite reason. Envy... ;-) (Yes, folks... she's a bit delusional. But I'll keep her.) :)

Spiritual Match:

PB: As Christians incorporating this aspect should be a natural part of what we do. Ames isn't just my CP for technique and story, but she's also my CP in the spiritual aspects of the story. We write with the deeper goal in mind than just a good story. We right with the purpose of instilling life-altering hope. Ames helps me look out for those elements in my story too.

ALS: And that curbs back into the friendship and trust aspect. Pepper isn't just a stranger with a lyrical talent, nor is she an acquaintance. She is one of my closest friends. This makes it easy to see where the plot might veer off course or miss her intended purpose for the heart of the story simply because I know her. I've talked with her about the spiritual takeaway and the themes that make it more than just a nice, feel-good read. We have something to say, and we can help each other say it.

PB: On a personal level, like I've mentioned before, we pray for each other. We share our hearts and struggles. We encourage and support each other in many other ways than writing alone. It's the third strand of a beautiful thread that binds me to Amy...and to all of the AlleyCats. Not just heart and mind, but also in spirit!


Joanne Sher said...

Love this stuff! I'd make my font green if I could too! Awesome tips and info ladies! Merry Christmas!

Pepper said...

It's painful, isn't it? ;-) I think what keeps the 'envy' bug away is that I REALLY want to see the best happen to Amy. In all honesty, I don't think I've ever been jealous of any of my Alley Cats because of the love I hold for them. I can't WAIT to celebrate their successes!!

It is kind of like Christmas. I'm not as excited about receiving gifts for myself as I am to watch others open presents. Especially if they're presents I bought for them. I LOVE that part!! And I have that same excited feeling when I think about God opening up the doors of publication...or more with these wonderful ladies!
It's a beautiful blessing.

Angie Dicken said...

I agree with sharing positive aspects! Ashley is soooo good about doing that, which equips me to stay grounded in my story but open to suggestions. I have had some critiques in the past, where the critiquer must have considered only the negative aspect of the definition "critique" and slashed away without any positive feedback. This is unfortunate, because the critiquer's words usually go to waste if they lose the respect of the author. Does that even make sense?
Thanks gals, for another great post!

Pepper said...

Totally agreed, Ang.
I think if Amy just sent the negative, I'd be so discouraged. Thankfully, she finds nice things to say too.
I never have to search really hard for the nice things about her writing. She has the lovely descriptive way about her prose that's wonderfully engaging.
Sickeningly so... ;-)

Angie Dicken said...

You and Amy are very mutual in that regard, your prose is lovely and engaging!! ;)
Between Ash and me, I lack her amazing knack for wit and ability to weave it with a deep-meaning story in a complimentary way. I love seeing how talent can be so unique among each of us!

Amy Leigh Simpson said...

Ha! NO need for green here, Joanne. Hope you have someone cheering you on in your writing journey. :)

Amy Leigh Simpson said...

I honestly can't wait until you get that first contract, Pep! I get so excited just thinking about it. I know it's gonna be soon! And knowing that I got to be a part of your dream is gonna make it so much sweeter :)

Amy Leigh Simpson said...

And I'm with you Ang... I have had some strictly negative critiques and, perhaps I'm just sensative, but it does tend to skew the way you receive the feedback. A sandwich approach works well. And you know what they say about a spoon full of sugar. ;)

Amy Leigh Simpson said...

It's easy to find nice things to say about your writing, pep. Too easy! Sometimes I try not to overdo it :) It's so lyrical and the charm and the descriptions just sweep me away.

Amy Leigh Simpson said...

I could see that about Ashley, Ang. Can't wait to read her book!

Karen @ a house full of sunshine said...

Ooh, I LOVED this: " see where the tension breaks for the reader, where they laugh or start swooning over the hero. I need to know these things, but very often critiquers don’t include this very critical information."

Very good point - and a good reminder to me for when I crit! Getting that reader reaction is so essential to know if our words are creating the desired effect.

Pepper said...

and Ames rights some SWOON! Good gravy! Whew.... Just thinking about Sal and now Archer.

If I didn't love her so much, I'd hate her for her amazing ability to craft character and story so well. :-)

Pepper said...

"writes" - I laugh, swoon, and cringe in those tense suspense moments SO often with her work

Amy Leigh Simpson said...

A little bit of sugar goes a long way, Karen :)

And Pep, I promise to finish your last two chapter crits after Christmas... you don't have butter me up first. Can't wait to see what you think of Archer. My first hero-love!

Amy Leigh Simpson said...

And you totally immerse me in those moments too. I practically had to fan myself thinking of those dimples and that English accent. My my.