Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Plotting to Kill Your Critique Partner

by j.a. kazimer

I know. I know. It’s not legal to choke the life out of anyone (no matter how good it would feel). And yet, I want to kill my critique partner with every breath I take. And I know just how to do it. I’d start with a roll of duct tape and the word orangutan…

But you, dear blog reader, are not here for ideas on how to get away with murdering your fellow writers (or maybe you are, who am I to judge), so instead I will tell you a little bit about why my critique partner must die.

The reason is simple: They critique me.

I know, right? What are they thinking?

But is critiquing worth it, one might ask, if that one likes to suffer? And since you’re reading a blog about being a professional writer, I’m guessing you do. So my answer is, perhaps.

Working with a critique partner is like being married in many ways. By which I mean thankless and unending. And like a marriage, your critique relationship depends on each writer following the ‘rules’. These should be a set of guidelines developed before a critique relationship begins, sort of like a prenup, in which both writers agree to certain things. Sounds easy enough, right? If you think so, I’m guessing you’ve never said ‘I Do’.

So you’re probably asking yourself, ‘Why would anyone have a critique partner?’

Good question. But it comes down to this—When it works, it works.

And sometimes it doesn’t.

So you plot their murder.

And then you send them your next chapter.

12 comments:

Paula Martin said...

I have two great critique partners - one looks at the details (over-used words and phrases etc), the other looks at the 'big picture' (story and character development). I'd have to kill myself if I lost either of them!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this message. After a critique I received yesterday, I was wondering if I should divorce my critique partner or just kill myself.

lesleylsmith said...

Okay, I'll bite...
What the heck does "the word orangutan" have to do with anything?

And, at the risk of appearing like a critique partner...sometimes your critique partner is one person and sometimes many. What's up with this? Multiple Personality Disorder? :)

Thanks for the fun post!
Cheers

j.a. kazimer said...

Paula, I'm so glad you have great critique partners. I have had many a great ones over the years (and they're all still alive)so I know how important that relationship is.

Anomomous, have you tried slipping bleach into their coffee? That way you can live on to sell your book. It's really a win-win, with the exception of your critique partner. They might see it quite that way.

Lesley, you caught me. I want to kill numerous critique partners, but I didn't want to come off all serial killery...

And come on, no critique parnter can resist the lure of the word orangutan :)

Dean K Miller said...

First, are they worthy of death at your hands? Messy and identifiable. Critiquers seem to be ego driven so do them a favor: responds with "outstanding" on everything they present. They'll be so enamoured with themselves they'll have to move on to a "higher level" of partner. At that point you'll have washed your hands of the problem and their next partner will do the dirty work for you.

If that doesnt' work, phase two is to "whatever" them to death. If something doesnt'ring right in the manuscript, just write (in bold red, of course) "Whatever" and included a question mark or exclamation point once in a while to quirk them a bit more.

Gotta run...just got three hits on Craigslist looking for a new critique partner.....

j.a. kazimer said...

Dean, LOL. I mean, Whatever...

Shannon said...

Julie,
I recommend a good therapist to deal with your anger issues. (c;

M.J. Fifield said...

I love this post. It's hilarious and so very true.

I'm in need of new critique partners myself. My last ones didn't work out.

I may have plotted murder but I didn't go through with it...and you can't prove differently.

j. a. kazimer said...

Shannon, anger issues? Really? REALLY!!!! tee hee.

MJ, uh huh...right...

Chiseled in Rock said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Patricia Stoltey said...

Me again, posting under the wrong ID. I wrote: I belong to a local face-to-face group, an online group, and I start new groups for Northern Colorado Writers. You're so right that the guidelines need to be laid down ahead of time. It makes all the difference.

j.a. kazimer said...

Hi Pat, you are a heck of a brave woman. That many critique groups and yet you've never killed anyone...well except for in your books, and what good murders they are :) Do any of your groups have specific guidelines you find helpful?