Today I want to talk about the advantages of having a critiquing partner. When you are professionally published, you have an editor who reviews your content and tells you what works and what doesn’t and what should be removed or added. You also have a copy editor, who checks for spelling and punctuation errors, inconsistencies in spelling names of characters or places, and other such details. If you are an indie author, you have to find someone who can supply those services. You may hire an editor, or you may have a friend who can read with a critical eye and catch both content problems and errors in grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Or you may even feel confident enough in your own ability as a writer to feel you can do without such outside services. However, no matter how skilled you are, you are unwise to be your own editor. It’s far too easy to overlook small things—a typo here, a missed punctuation mark there. You also run the risk of being so in love with your own work that you are blind to places where the narrative drags or where a paragraph that is clear to you will not be clear to a reader and needs a bit more explanation. I recommend hiring an editor, especially if you are a first-time author. But for indie authors who operate on a tight budget, have published previously, and simply don’t have the funds for an editor, there are other routes you can take. One is to find a competent critiquing partner.
A critiquing partner is another writer with whom you can exchange critiques, someone who will read and critique your material while you read and critique theirs and then exchange comments and suggestions. This can be highly beneficial to both partners. I am fortunate to have such a critiquing partner. She is Diane Sawyer (the mystery writer, not the TV personality). It isn’t necessary to partner with a writer in the same genre. I write fantasy novels, and Diane is not a fantasy reader. Though I do read mysteries, I don’t write them. We don’t find that a hindrance to being able to critique each other’s work. We both agree that our work is better as a result of the comments and concerns we express to each other. We agree that we must be brutally honest with one another, and if something doesn’t work or make sense or even is absolutely awful, we say so. Of course we also offer praise where praise is due, pointing out strengths as well as weaknesses, and highlighting passages that strike us as especially good. In essence, we function as editors for each other.
Here’s what Diane has to say about our partnership:
“Every writer needs an editor to fine-tune her work into an appealing story that captures the reader’s attention and doesn’t let go until the final page is turned. My own experience of working with an editor has been positive and helpful. E. Rose Sabin has been my editor for several years. Likewise, I have been her editor for that same time. I write mysteries and adventures; she writes fantasy and sci-fi. The different genres are not a problem. Good writing and a believable plot are the goals. We call ourselves writing partners and critiquing partners, because our work entails a mutual effort. Find that perfect fit so you, too, can help and be helped. Our editing isn’t just about adding commas, avoiding repetitions, or creating believable characters. Rose’s editing has helped me as an editor and a writer. As a result of our editorial collaboration, she gave up the bad habit of too many short paragraphs filled with short sentences. Her effect on me? I sped up the beginning of my stories and got the plot up and running more quickly. Don’t wait another day. Get a critiquing partner and improve the consistency of the characters plus the freshness and originality of the plot. Find an excellent editor. You’ll be glad you did.”
–Diane Sawyer, award-winning author of The Tell-Tale Treasure and her newest, just released, Trouble in Tikal, both published in Florida by Southern Yellow-Pine Publishing. Diane was also published by Avalon Books, New York City and Thomas & Mercer ,the mystery division of Amazon Books, New York City: The titles are: The Montauk Mystery, The Montauk Steps, The Tomoka Mystery, The Cinderella Murders, The Treasures of Montauk Cove. With Rose’s editorial help, she will next create The Diamond Murders, set in St. Petersburg.
Diane’s newest book, Trouble in Tikal, can be found here.
And on a different topic, in my previous blog I wrote about my intention to reissue the books in my Arucadi series in chronological order rather than in the order in which they were originally published. The first book in that series is Mistress of the Wind. It will be launched January 15—just a little over a month away. Here’s a first look at the cover flat: