Friday, March 22, 2019

Four Qualities to Look for In a Writing Critique Partner

By Lori Hatcher @LoriHatcher2

In last month’s post, 4 Reasons Why You Need a Writing Critique Partner, I shared four reasons why every serious writer should have a critique partner. Today, I’d like to share four qualities to look for in choosing one.

Four Qualities to Look for in a Writing Critique Partner

1. You Should Share Similar Visions and Goals.
Successful writing partnerships are made up of two people who share similar goals for writing: Are you hobbyists with little desire for publication? Or are you actively seeking to be published? Are you working on projects with measureable goals? Or meandering through and working sporadically?  Do you desire to hone your writing skills, or are you content that you know enough? These aren’t right or wrong approaches, but if you and your critique partner don’t share the same approach, you’ll quickly become frustrated. 

2. You Should Share a Commitment to Learning and Growing.
When I was a young adult, a wise and godly pastor once counseled, “The person you choose to marry should be more spiritually-mature than you are. And he should feel the same way about you.” It was his clever way of saying both partners should be growing, active, and moving forward, not stagnant and satisfied.

Successful critique partners know the other half of their pair is more gifted, clever, and talented. They suspect they’re the weak link and are committed to learn and grow so they won’t get left behind or have little to offer. 

In my critique partnership, I have more publishing and editing experience, but my partner is a masterful storyteller who knows how to successfully insert humor into the most serious of topics. Our strengths aren’t equal in every area, but we each bring valuable knowledge and skills to the critique process. Our manuscripts are always better when the other has finished with them.

3. You Should Share Complimentary Personalities.
This quality seems either too obvious or too shallow, but it’s important to mention. Do you enjoy each other’s company, or does her laugh drive you crazy? Do you come away from an encounter energized or exhausted? Are you serious or silly? How do you handle deadlines? While you don’t have to be clones, you do have to like and respect each other. And be able to work well together. Hopefully, if you live nearby, you’ll be spending at least some time together. 

4. You Should Share Similar or Overlapping Genres. 
While you don’t have to write in exactly the same genre, you’ll get the best feedback if you’re both well-versed in the same general area. It’s unfair to expect a children’s writer to adequately critique (or even want to read) a Steam Punk novel. And if your specialty is memoir, you may not have the industry insight to critique non-fiction Christian Living. Finally, because relationships move the wheels of the Christian writing industry, your contacts can become her contacts and her contacts can become yours. She may get a call out for a project she doesn’t have time for and lob it your way with an introductory email to the editor. Trust me on this. Stay within your genre.

Finding the right critique partner isn’t complicated, but you’d be wise to bathe the process in prayer. If you sense the Lord leading you to take this next step, ask him to guide the process. Then look around – in your writers group, at writers conferences, and among your writer friends – your critique partner is out there. 

Next month, I’ll share some guidelines for setting up the actual critique process. Stay tuned! And if you have a critique partner, I’d love for you to share what qualities you think are most important. Leave a comment below and join the conversation.


This series comes from Lori Hatcher’s newest writing workshop, “Yes, You Need a Critique Partner – The Who, What, When, Were, and How’s of Writing in Partnership.” Lori is the editor of Reach Out, Columbiamagazine and the author of several devotional books. Hungry for God … Starving for Time, Five-Minute Devotions for Busy Womenwon the 2016 Christian Small Publisher Book of the Year award. Her most recent book, Refresh Your Faith – Uncommon Devotions from Every Book of the Bible is due out in the spring of 2020.A blogger, writing instructor, and inspirational speaker, her goal is to help women connect with God in the craziness of life You’ll find her pondering the marvelous and the mundane on her blog, Hungry for God. . . Starving for Time. Connect with her on Facebook,Twitter(@LoriHatcher2), or Pinterest(Hungry for God).


  1. Lori, I've been with my CPs for 14 years. We started out as raw newbies together, but we had the same goals. And we grew together. It's a treasured relationship and friendship. I wouldn't want to take this journey without them.

  2. Thanks Ms. Lori. I don't yet have a formalized critique partner; I have relied on my Christian Writers Group and trusted friends (who are primarily professional writers). We bounce ideas off of one another, review things, and offer helpful and kind counsel. Your tips will help me in the selection process on day. God's blessings...

  3. I participate in two Word Weavers critique groups. Also, I have two wonderful authors who are guiding me along the writing journey. I am blessed to be able to attend writer's conferences. Continuing to learn and share with other writers is a vital part of writing. :-)