[French, from Greek kritik (tekhn), (art) of criticism, feminine of kritikos, critical; see critic.]
1. A critical review or commentary, especially one dealing with works of art or literature.
2. A critical discussion of a specified topic.
3. The art of criticism.
tr.v. cri·tiqued, cri·tiqu·ing, cri·tiques To review or discuss critically.
-taken from thefreedictionary.com
Critiquing is not all rainbows and unicorns. Yeah, that compliment sandwich is still a good idea, but that doesn't mean it's easy. It's hard. It's hard to do and it can be hard to take, but if you want to grab an agent's/editor's attention with a kick-ass manuscript then you have to do it. You also have to build up some thick skin. This industry isn't easy. You hear A LOT more "no's" than you do "yes's."
I think critiquing other writer's work is equally important than having your own read. The things you find yourself liking or disliking in other writing, you notice more quickly in your own. You have more of an editorial eye while you write, considering technique and skill, but also the artistic vision for the story.
Every writer has a slightly different idea of what a crit partner (often referred to as a CP in the writer world) should be. I have a small group of writers who I critique and/or beta read for, as should anyone mildly serious about their writing. My crit partners, just as any CP should be, are honest and gracious. One thing I would suggest when trying out a crit partner: make sure to agree upon what you want the reader to comment on, where you want them to comment, etc. This way expectations are met and you both have a productive experience.
I owe a lot to my critique partners. Eliza Tilton, Laura Standford, Lindsay Currie, Trisha Leaver, and this blog's founder, Nicole Steinhaus, are all extremely talented authors that have either critiqued for me or have let me critique for them. Thank you, guys.
Then I have Lynne Matson, YA author of light science-fiction. We write different genres but we get each other (like, almost in scary ways). We communicate in some way almost daily. She know's my characters just as well as I do. She's talked me off the ledge several times, gives me the best pep-talks, gives me encouragement, but also listens when I need to vent. We've shed tears together and have celebrated together. While on this journey into writing/publishing, side-by-side, she's become one of my closest friends. She's priceless. Indispensable. Thank you, Lynne.
I recently went from stay-at-home-mom and YA writer to Promo Manager for the Seymour Agency and intern for MG/YA agent, Marisa Cleveland. Just this week I accepted representation from Nicole Resciniti, also from the Seymour Agency. I'm beyond grateful and crazy excited!!!! *freaks out* Look at the prior post for an interview with Marisa and Nicole.
A great crit partner is worth their weight in gold.