Saturday, August 8, 2009

Holly Black: How to Be Good Critiquers and Critique Partners

Fantasy author Holly Black (The Spiderwick Chronicles) wanted to do a session on critiquing because she feels she wouldn’t be an author today if it wasn’t for her critique partners.

By show of hands, about half of room is in critique groups. Holly is talking about the difference between critique groups and critique partners. Her critique group meets to go over a finished draft of a novel. (The meet 3 or 4 times a year.) She relies on her critique partners on a more day-to-day basis with work-in-progress issues.

Your critique group doesn’t have to necessarily write exactly what you like, but they should have the same taste in book—otherwise they won’t get you, Holly says. You really have to love each other’s writing or you won’t work as critique partners.

Holly often feels like she’s writing for her critique partners—they’re the audience she knows.

She ways there’s no one “in charge” of her critique group. “Our group is chaotic. We meet and we have no pattern to what we do.” (Note: Holly mentioned that sometimes the problem with critique groups is that you start out with everyone being equal, but when problems arise, there’s no “one charge” to deal with it, then people leave or groups splinter off.)

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