A she said-she said account—Amy and Pepper Style
Okay, so perfect might be a stretch! We all know perfection as something we strive towards but never fully achieve. I mean, let’s face it, no matter how many times we nip, tuck, and thigh-master our words, our manuscripts will never be perfect. We are extraordinarily imperfect. Our spouses aren’t perfect. (Well, yours is pretty close,
Admit it.) Shoot, our kids are obviously not perfect (Except mine are pretty close, mwhahaha - NOT ;-),
so how monumental is the task of trying to find a good fit for a critique or
writing partner if opinions, styles, and personalities vary as wide as the
If you’ve been trying on crit partners like shoes on the clearance rack, perhaps you should shake up your tactic.
. I do think timing has a lot to do with
it too. I only knew Amy for a grand total of a month before I realized this gal
might be what I’d been praying for in a crit partner. It can be a long process
– but, just like in baby-name choices -- you want to be picky. The right fit
DOES matter – now and in the future. Ames
Ahh, Pep… I love ya! So, having been blessed as crit partners that more than meet each others needs, we thought we’d share some key pieces to look for in that elusive ONE!
1. Writing Match: What this really means…
ALS: You might think this refers to matching genres or styles. Not necessarily. The match up doesn’t have to be that “matchy-matchy.” For example, Pepper writes, well… everything, but mainly Historical and Contemporary Romance. I write Romantic Suspense. The subject matter and personality that grace our pages are vastly different… so how it is that we are compatible? Simple. We understand each others motivations for the story. We talk openly about our intentions for the message and tone we hope to convey, and we also talk candidly about our strengths and weaknesses. This arms us with the best insight into giving the kind of feedback that will strengthen each of our unique styles.
Also important, since you will undoubtedly spend countless hours combing over each others work, be sure to look for a style that doesn’t irritate you. Because regardless of how well it is written, if the type of story or the author’s style doesn’t float your boat, you are in for long, tedious months of likely unpleasant and unhelpful feedback. Anyone been there? Or gotten feedback from someone who simply wasn’t even close to your target reader? Finding a writing match is critical in maintaining a long term partnership which will be a great building block for long term growth. Your thoughts, Pep?
PB: Totally agree here,
Ames. One of the things
that really confirmed the match for me was how much your pacing, style, and
even…our shared ‘overwriting’ ;-) worked well for my reading and writing style.
It was a wonderful complement. I LOVE reading your work and I think that has to
be a giant consideration when determining the right CP-fit. Amy is a mom of two (almost 3) really young
kids. I’m a work-outside-the-home mom of five. We have to be careful of the
writing time we DO have – and critiquing something that matches our style and
interest makes the time we spend worth it! SO worth it!!! (Whole-heartedly agree!) One of the reasons I think it
goes smoother in this area too is because I don’t have to do a lot of
‘guessing’ about her intentions in her writing because we ‘get’ each other. My
style is similar enough that I understand her intentions (most of the time) and
she does mine. This helps maximize the time we spend critiquing.
2. Personality Match: You mean I have to actually like the person?
ALS: Generally, yes. This is a relationship. When we actually like the other person things tend to go more smoothly. Lines of communication are less likely to be bungled and feelings less likely to be hurt. Again, this doesn’t mean that your personalities are the same. But having similar temperaments, or working with someone who ‘gets’ you is a bit like having a boss you can actually stand. (Not that I would know what that is like. Sheesh!) But honestly, our stories are very close to our hearts, and sharing them with someone you can relate to makes even tough critiques more credible, and all the more palatable.
PB: This is REALLY important! Next to my family and colleagues,
Ames has to put up with me the most. Since
writing is a ‘hopeful’ life career for both of us, we’re planning on being in
each others’ lives for a long time to come. We have similar traits in the fact
that we’re both more ‘extroverted’, but within that we have very different
personalities too. (Amy’s more direct with a sassy edge. GREAT for suspense
writing). Thankfully those personalities complement each other more than annoy J
|"A faithful friend is a strong defense."|
Another important addition here – expectations!!for flexibility around the writing. Praise God for that!!
Ames and I are SUPER busy
ladies. One of the beautiful elements of this relationship is that we both
‘get’ the need for flexibility in reading, writing, and critiquing. There are
times when I CAN’T get something back to her as quickly as I’d like – and vice
versa. Life calls first! Writer after. We have this agreement and understanding
So there are a few ideas to get you started. Writing doesn’t have to be a lonely endeavor. Spend some time in prayer about it. Strike up a conversation; be honest about what you are looking for. Who knows, your perfect match might be closer than you think.
Your turn: What are you looking for in a critique partner? Or what elements have you found work well for you? Which ones don't?
-Amy & Pepper
-Amy & Pepper