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Critique Partner Matchmaking

by Melissa Tagg

This past year has been one of dreams-come-true for me. Only dream that hasn’t come true? A proposal from Tim Tebow. Um, I guess he was too busy playing football. (Playing being a relative term, in this case. Yeah, I might need to work on my grudge against the Jets!)

But one of the coolest things that happened in the last year was meeting the fellow writer and blogger who would eventually become my crit partner-Lindsay Harrel.

Since my partnership/friendship with Lindsay has been one of the best things to happen to my writing, I thought it might be fun to provide a few matchmaking tips for anyone else looking for a CP.

[Cue Tevye's daughters singing "Matchmaker, Matchmaker."]

I’m certainly no expert, but I believe asking yourself the following questions can help determine if your potential CP relationship is made to last.

Am I willing to commit?
This was a big one for me. Lindsay and I first started talking about partnering up in early 2012. However, at the time I was feeling overwhelmed and knew I wouldn’t be able to give much as a CP. So instead of jumping right into a partnership, we took the time to pray and wait until we were able to truly commit.

What stages are we at in our writing journeys and will our experiences jive?
When Lindsay and I met, I’d been pursuing my writing career for a bit longer, but our goals and commitments to our dreams were so similar. If one of us had been writing ten years and the other one, I think we’d have been more suited for a mentor-mentee sort of relationship-which is a great option in its own right. But for a CP relationship, at least in my experience, it really seems to work when both are at similar stages, pursuing their goals with the same vigor and dedication to learning the craft.

Have we outlined our plan of action?
Lindsay and I were very intentional about this. We chatted about our expectations and desires for our partnership and committed to a trial period. Our rule was friendship first. I’ve never worried that I’m not giving enough or living up to Lindsay’s expectations because we’ve been clear from the beginning on our plan of action.

Do we speak the same writing language?
Lindsay and I are both involved in the same writing craft and coaching community-My Book Therapy-as well as ACFW. So we use the same lingo and terms. No confusion!

Do we speak the same “heart” language?
This one is, perhaps, optional. I’m sure there are crit partnerships that operate on a more professional level. And that’s great! But for me, I’m soooo grateful for the heart connection my CP and I share. We provide accountability for each other, share prayer requests…Lindsay even sent me a pep talk video when I was in the final stages of drafting my latest WIP. She’s been an incredible blessing, and I wouldn’t want to walk this writing road without her!

How about you? Do you have a critique partner? What tips do you have for a great crit partnership?


Melissa Tagg is a former reporter turned romantic comedy writer. Her debut novel, Made to Last, releases from Bethany House in September 2013. In addition to her nonprofit day job, she’s also the marketing/events coordinator for My Book Therapy. Connect with Melissa at www.melissatagg.com and on Facebook and Twitter (@Melissa_Tagg).

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8 Responses to Critique Partner Matchmaking

  1. Yes, I have a CP, and I kind of think she’s the best thing in the world! :) Great post, friend!

  2. I have 4 great crit partners. We’ve been together since late 2009 and have developed a beautiful friendship as well as being crit partners. Johnnie Alexander Donley, Renee Osborne, Chandra Smith, Rob McClain.

  3. Great ideas!! The Lord was kind enough to bring 2 Christian writers willing to create a critique group with me this year. YAY!! I hope the three of us get to know each other in addition to help each other write.

    And I concur with your assessment of Lindsay. She’s pretty awesome!

  4. Beth Vogt says:

    I have belonged to a nonfiction critique group that went through various changes — and one member and I pledged to have each other’s backs from here to eternity! (No exaggeration!) I have also belonged to several fiction groups, but have had to step away from those for now. And, yes, I miss the encouragement. For me, I’m benefiting from the mentor-mentee relationship you mentioned — where other more experienced writers have poured their knowledge and their faith into me.
    I also try to encourage and motivate other writers as I can.

    This is a keeper post, Melissa!

  5. Lisa Jordan says:

    Through the years I’ve been involved in quite a few critique groups, but I longed for that one person as a craft partner. God answered that prayer a couple of years ago. I have a terrific craft partner who shores up my weaknesses with her strengths. Her brainstorming abilities amaze me. Sometimes I feel like I’m getting more than I’m giving because her plotting blows me away. And I’m learning so much from her.

  6. Mary Vee says:

    My crit partners have been a tremendous blessings. They are a small group formed from the large ACFW crit loop. They have a great perspective, and insight. Thanks to them I have learned so very much.

  7. Ron Estrada says:

    I don’t have any at the moment but have had some great ones. The hard part is rebuilding new relationships after taking time off. CPs must be a match, not in genre necessarily, but in skill level, dedication, and rate of work. It’s tough for someone who writes one hour a day to be a partner with someone who writes for four!

  8. Zoe M. McCarthy says:

    Your excellent plan came at a good time for me. Confirmed that we need to be intentional for this longterm friendship and business relationship.