🎡 With a Little Help from My Friends πŸŽΆ

I thought of the theme of this post, and I immediately thought of The Beatles song. Then again, throughout the course of any given day, I say, think, or hear phrases that remind me of a whole bunch of songs, so this isn’t a surprise to me. (It is, however, why I have a running soundtrack in my head and why, even if a room is silent, I’m moving my head or feet like I’m marking time to a song.)

Anyway, this post is basically a shout-out to a critique partner and a plea for you to find a good collaborator.

The Shout-Out

I’m not sure how she’s going to feel about a public proclamation of her name, but I want to thank friend and talented author Mae Clair for her help. I’ve been struggling with an opening for my WIP (to the point that I moved on and decided to come back to it later… and if you know me AT ALL, you know I don’t do that when I write). Mae was gracious enough to listen to my difficulties and offer suggestions until I got the idea for the opening fleshed out. This is the third or fourth opening I’ve had for my WIP, but it’s by far the strongest. I can’t tell you how grateful I am.

The Plea

I’ve worked by myself, worked by asking family and friends for opinions, worked with large writing groups, and worked with a critique partner. For me, having a single critique partner (or a very small, selective group of partners) is the most effective way to go.

Working by myself does give me some freedom and leeway, but it’s also limiting and short-sighted. I miss the benefit of external opinions.

Family and friends mean well, and they do represent a random sampling of a reading audience, but they simply don’t understand writing techniques and genre tropes.

Large groups can be effective. With that many sets of eyes looking at my work, someone is bound to see something I missed. But they don’t have the time to get into detail about one person’s text, and they also run the risk of too many cooks spoiling the broth—in this case, my broth, or my WIP.

For the way I work, a partner or small group is most beneficial to me. I’ve chosen that person or persons because I’m aware of the talents and skills they offer. I know we’ll work well together. We have the time to get into deep discussions on the project. And we’re not obligated to work at a specified time—we can work when we decide it’s convenient, not when a group meeting happens to be scheduled.

For me, I get the biggest benefit from working with a critique partner (or partners). You may work differently and find one of the other options above suits you better. I insist on advocating forΒ someone to look at your work, though.

  • Brainstorming with someone else can get you pastΒ blocks or create ideas you’d never otherwise have considered.
  • A partner can hold you accountable and keep you on schedule.
  • Having someone read your work before your editor does will make your draft far stronger before you submit it.
  • And if you happen to have a group who is willing to read your final product, you have a ready-made street team, so on release day, you should have reviews ready to go.

So, yeah, let me thank Mae for getting my head on straight and my work on track. And let me end by suggesting you find a partner or partners of your own to help you out. You won’t be sorry.

What do you think? Do you use a partner or friends/family or a group, or do you wing it and work alone? Sound off below.

Hmm… it looks like The Beatles really understood the life of a writer. (And I’m not just talking about their song, “Paperback Writer“.) Let me leave you with this…


Published by Staci Troilo

A writer fascinated with interpersonal relationships, the importance of family, and the relevance of heritage. Learn more at https://stacitroilo.com.

22 thoughts on “🎡 With a Little Help from My Friends πŸŽΆ

  1. I had a friend I’d met at a writer’s conference read my WIP and she pointed out a very large plot hole I’d overlooked. Sometimes you’re just too close to writing to notice – it’s always helpful to get new eyes and fresh opinions, but I don’t have anyone I regularly work with. And I’m a Beatles fan too, Staci – had that song in my head before clicking over to your blog to see it was actually the Beatles!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Those fresh viewpoints have saved me a few times. I’m happy to help if you ever need a second opinion. If we “Come Together,” “We Can Work it Out.” (Okay, I think I’m officially out of Beatles references for this post now. πŸ˜‰ )

      Thanks for stopping by, Teri!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ll keep that in mind in the next few months – thanks! Weirdest thing – after reading this post, I heard Beatles songs the rest of the day every time I waited for the elevator (on vacation).

        Liked by 1 person

  2. You nailed it, Staci! And what a lovely shout-out for Mae. πŸ™‚
    Book two is soon to be released, and it’s a completely different experience this time around. I’m so grateful for my author friends. Cheers! πŸ™‚

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I have a few partners that I use regularly, Staci, KE, and a non writer friend, Christine. As valuable as my writing friends can be, Christine has given me some excellent suggestions and clarified how readers see my work. I agree that every writer needs to have a partner or partners.

    I have also used family and friends, but the statement, ” I like it,” isn’t helpful.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Oh, wow. I’m blushing, Staci. πŸ™‚ Do I mind that public shout-out? No way, because I’m so glad we hooked up, and I’ve already seen that we work well together. I have searched high and low for a critique partner I “click” with over the last several years, and haven’t been able to find that perfect fit. I truly believe I have now πŸ™‚

    Like you, I’ve worked with a single CP in the past, small groups, and large groups, and I find that the one-on-one type of critique is the most beneficial and valuable. Especially when you find someone you connect with. And brainstorming is invaluable, I’m so glad I was able to help you out with that opening.

    I do agree that writers need a critique partner or partners, and I highly recommend that experience to everyone. It may take a while to find that perfect fit (it took me several years) but it is well worth the search, the connection and the friendship.

    And hey, I’ve been glued to the new Beatles station on Sirius radio, so those vids were perfect, LOL!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m a huge Beatles fan, so… happy to oblige.

      I, too, am thrilled to be working together. I’ve already seen an improvement in my writing, and I’m grateful. More than you know.

      I’ve asked Joan, Michele, and K. E. for help in the past, too, and they’ve been generous with their time and suggestions. I’m blessed to have such a wealth of talent to work with.

      Liked by 3 people

  5. Love this. My small critique group is so helpful. And I know that Mae is a valuable partner. I love her writing (and yours).

    Of course, you know I love any reference to the Beatles. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Oh and I’m doing something a bit different with my WIP. A coworker, who isn’t a writer, is reading it as I go. He’s able to give me insight from a reader’s perspective. It’s been interesting.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Joan, thanks for the kind words. (And see my reply to Mae for a shout-out to you, as well!)

        I think having a reader-only perspective is a great idea. Maybe once the process is done, you can share the pros and cons of that experience. I’d love to know how it works out.

        And of course you like The Beatles! I’d forgotten, then I saw your comment. And I laughed. πŸ˜‰

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Interesting read – I typically work with about three readers and that seems to be working out well for me. Glad you found a good critique partner. I always feel that more than one set of eyes is best, and more than two is better but more than three’s a crowd.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Sometimes that happens in a critique group. There just isn’t enough time to get into detail about anything, and with so many people wanting to comment, the conversation can go off in a tangent that the writer doesn’t find useful. Or arguments break out about trivial details rather than important points. Before you know it, your time is up and the group has moved on, and you’ve got a handful of comments that don’t really add value to your work.

      Many people, particularly beginning writers, find value in large groups. But I’m at a point now where smaller is better.

      Thanks for sharing your experiences, K. E.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. Thanks, Staci, for this thought-provoking post. I’ve not worked with a partner – just my editor. Something to think about as it makes a lot of sense.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. People who follow me on Goodreads know I’m impressed by Mae’s writing. I love her work. But I have to say she’s just as talented at working with authors. Or this author, anyway.

      I do advocate writers finding a trusted sounding board. “Two heads are better than one” is a popular saying for a reason.

      Thanks for commenting, John. If you decide to try working with a partner, let us know how the experience goes. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 2 people

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