I used to write in a bubble. I wouldn’t let anybody see anything I had written until I was sure it was complete. Complete to me then did not mean the same thing as it does to me now. And that is because I let others read my work, and not only that, I let them pick it apart and scribble red markings all over it (hypothetically, since it is normally over the Internet!). Having another person (or more than one) go over my writing and tell me what is missing, what is over-done, or what makes no sense at all is amazing. It allows for a finished story to be so much better than if I had done it all alone. Art is a community effort.
My experience with critique partners/groups started in college. I took a few creative writing classes and a requirement for each of those classes was to have your work critiqued and critique other student’s work. Some of the students didn’t care as much and only half-ass critiqued my work, but there were a select few that were excellent and those are the people who made me realize that I needed critiques.
Now that I’m no longer in school, I have my husband critique my work. He is amazing at it and sometimes he points out things that would have taken me forever to notice (it’s true what they say about more than one pair of eyes!), but I realized that I needed even more eyes.
In July, I found a website called Inked Voices. It is solely a critique site and you must pay a monthly fee to participate. I joined a few groups on the site and I have now narrowed it down to just one group of dedicated critiquers. I highly recommend Inked Voices if you are serious about the critiques you give as well as the critiques you wish to receive. Because the site is a paid service, I find that it culls out the people who are less likely to give proper/thorough critiques.
Regardless of how you come to have a critique group or partner, remember that they are not just there to give you a critique but for you to do the same for them! The great thing is, usually if you give great critiques, you’ll get great critiques in return!
Now, I need to go sign in to Inked Voices so I can get some critiquing done!