I’m delighted to be part of the blog tour for SPEED OF LIFE by J.M Kelly aka Joëlle Anthony.
As well as being a wonderful author, Joëlle is my dear friend, and my critique partner. To celebrate the publication of SPEED OF LIFE, Joëlle and I had a chat about critique partners, how to find them, and why they’re important. We hope you enjoy it.
Joëlle A lot of people ask me how I found my critique partners, and so I want to say right here that we became friends first. I think the best thing a writer can do is find other writers to hang out with (in real life or virtually) and get to know them so they know if they can trust them to help them or not. I remember thinking a lot of you (as I do now) from the beginning and knowing I could trust your opinion because you said smart things on your blog about the books you were reading.
Each of my early readers seem to offer different things based on their personalities. One of the things that’s great about having a Brit read my writing is that sometimes things I think are really clear, aren’t always so straight forward to you. This keeps me honest as a writer. You’re also very good at noticing the things other people seem to miss…and when it comes to any romance in the book, I can count on you to call me on anything cheesy or things that don’t need to be there at all.
Hopefully I offer you something when I critique your writing. Maybe you can talk about that?
Alexa You were the first person to read my first story! It was a really terrifying experience, but I trusted you and I knew you would make the story better, which you did. You were so helpful and encouraging, but you also gave me a lot of notes on what was wrong too.
You’re great at structure and telling me when the story isn’t moving along rapidly enough. You also make my work better by encouraging me to be meaner to my characters and really push them to the edge.
Joëlle I am not good at pulling punches when critiquing. I will always tell you what’s good (funny, lovely, wonderful), but I also will just say, “Your teen boy sounds like he’s 40 years old.” And I don’t really worry about your feelings because the truth is that if I sugar-coat anything, then you just have to do more work in the end. I really feel like it’s kinder to say, “this bit is slow.” I was probably more scared than you when I critiqued you because the last thing I’d want to do is hurt your feelings, but I don’t really know how to critique any other way.
Do you have advice for people trying to find critique partners? Do you have others besides me? How did you find them?
Alexa I’ve found all my critique partners the same way – people I got friendly with through blogs or social media. So that’s the way I’d recommend doing it. You need chemistry with your critique partners; it’s a really important relationship. It’s so great when you find someone you click with, who gets what you’re trying to do.
Have you ever critiqued in person rather than over email?
Joëlle I sometimes critique at conferences. I love doing the “blue pencils” at conferences because the writers make an appointment with me, bring in 3 pages, I read them quickly, and then we discuss them. I think this works really well because you can share first impressions. I’ve also done ones where I’ve read 20-50 pages ahead of time and then met face to face with the writer for thirty minutes. I find those much more difficult because if they’re not that good, then you have to try and figure out not only some positives, but also which things to tackle because you can’t cover everything in thirty minutes. And just for the record, I am a lot more gentle with people who I don’t know personally because I NEVER want to discourage anyone. But it often makes me feel as if I’m not really helping them as much as I could too, so I try not to do this too often.
SPEED OF LIFE is in stores now.
I hope you’ll visit the other blogs taking part in the tour and pick up a copy of SPEED OF LIFE, it’s a wonderful book.
Thanks for stopping by, we hope you enjoyed out chat.