How Laura Pepper Wu’s own search for a critique partner inspired her to start Ladies Who Critique: It’s like Match.com for writers!
Handing over your work for someone else to read for the first time is one of the most terrifying things you can do as a writer. Ironically, it’s also one of the most beneficial things you can do.
While having friends and family as beta readers is all good, it’s unlikely to help do much for your writing other than give you a big confidence boost (which is indeed needed once in a while!). To really take your writing to the next level though, a critique partner or group can do wonders. Someone to not only shower you with praise, but to help you see exactly where you are going right, and where you are going wrong, in your story. So where does one find such a thing?
To help better my own writing, I joined a writers group in early 2010. It was fantastic, and not only because we met each Saturday over coffee and pancakes, though arguably that helped. Each week before my reading I would get superbly nervous. However the comments and feedback I received would help me see things with new eyes, give me fresh ideas, improve the story’s structure and fill in the gaps and holes in the story that were blindingly obvious to the listener, but had completely passed me by. My writing improved thick and fast that year.
As my writing developed and I started my first attempt at a novel, the feedback that I was getting from the writer’s group was missing that je ne sais quoi. Perhaps it was because the ages in the group ranged from 18- 75, or because there was no one else that wrote – or read – my genre (chick lit by the way). Was it entertaining? Did it hit the right chords for the audience it was intended for? In addition, I would cringe when reading out some parts of the story that weren’t appropriate for some member’s ears! (70-year-old Steve never missed a meeting!)
Chick lit is an attitude, a sense of humor and a set of issues that not everyone understands or has any interest in. I admit to zoning out during some of the other genre readings so I don’t expect every writer to “get it”. It dawned on me after about 10 months (and a lot of pancakes) that what I needed to really improve my novel was to find a critique partner who understood, and loved, chick lit… Someone who would actually be entertained by the story and who might even buy it if it was published.
I turned online to find this group or partner, as this seemed to be more time-efficient that attending a three-hour in-person meeting only to have 20 minutes of reading and feedback time, and found tons of blogposts and Facebook threads of writers lamenting their unsuccessful searches for a critique partner.
It was clear to me that critique partners and groups were not only a necessary part of a writers journey to improvement, but also that working with another writer (such a lonely process) can bring a certain energy and buzz. However, finding these partners was not an easy task. I wanted to help other women writers have access to the benefits of a critique relationship, and so Ladies Who Critique was born!
Ladies Who Critique is a place where any writer looking to find a supportive critique partner/critique group can find a compatible match. It’s like a dating site, but for writers! Writers sign up, create a profile, join their preferred genre group, browse members and when they see someone who catches their attention, they can contact another writer for the ‘first date’, which usually involves switching up a few chapters to see if they are compatible.
“…through this site I’ve found a crit partner I adore” – Jessica
The details of how and how often you will critique with your partner are then left up to members. Ladies Who Critique simply provides a place where writers wanting critique can find – and be found by – potential critique partners.
“My critique partner is so helpful that my novel has improved a lot. Your idea for the site was what on-line writers needed” – Marianne
The site is intended for writers of all levels – published, unpublished, agented, unagented, aspiring, hobbyists, even closet writers or complete newbies! There are no requirements or criteria for Ladies Who Critique membership, even men are welcome with open arms, except that members should be 16 +. It is a completely free resource, and always will be.
“Thank you for creating Ladies Who Critique! It’s really opened a lot of doors to me as an aspiring writer” – Chiaki
Since the site beta launched in August, I’ve had some great feedback from our members. Many have found partners and are finding that the accountability of having a CP waiting for their work is motivation alone to keep writing! The site is still in the beta phase, so we are still working on some kinks on the site and improving functionality but if you are a writer looking for a critique partner, we have 20 genre groups, close to 500 members and we are still growing. So come join us and see what having a critique partner can do for your writing.
“I am so excited to find just what I’ve been looking for as a writer” – Frances
Laura Pepper Wu is a writer, marketer and entreprenette. She is the co-founder of 30 Day Books: a book promotions studio, and the founder of Ladies Who Critique.com. She adores women’s fiction and chick lit and loves connecting with other readers and writers. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or buzz her over on Twitter.