They've lurked in the shadows, behind the laptops, and on the writer's forums. They've made you smile, made you cry, and most likely made you want to throw something.
If you've ever had your work critiqued, you've experienced them.
If you've ever critiqued another writer's work, you've been one of them.
I've been doing a lot or critiquing these days. And after my own experiences and chatting with other writers, I thought it'd be fun to compile a list of four common types of critique partners. And I use the term "partner" loosely. Of course I've had amazing ones too, but the not so amazing are funner to poke fun at.
*Disclaimer. This is ONLY for fun. No panties getting into bunches here.*
-The Over Achiever
This critiquer seems to think it necessary to point out EVERY little problem they find with your work. Even the problems that aren't there. Like a blood hound, they're sniffing the issues out and by golly they're gonna find something! They've read about ten words of your first page, and already they're making comments in the sidebar of how the main male character wouldn't think or do such-and-such because it's out of character for him. And if they've used track changes, there's now a lotta red on your manuscript document.
This person absolutely LOVES your story. I don't care if it's only two pages long, they love it. The plotting? Perfect. The dialog? Perfect. The pacing? Perfect. The world-building? You guessed it. Perfect. Now, at first you're thanking your lucky stars for a reader like this, but at the end of the day, without helpful feedback, your manuscript is no closer to being...perfect.
This one makes me laugh because while I've had each of these types critique my work (and I've been some of them too), I've had one run-in with a doomsday critiquer, and I can still remember her words. This person is a fine critiquer. Not too much, not too little. But then at the end, when they're summing up their thoughts, they add bits about how hard it is to get published. How the odds are against you. How if you don't follow ALL the rules in your writing, and don't attend as many conferences as possible, and don't work tirelessly for years and years, then your odds of getting published just went from bad to almost non-existent.
This person is a little like Doomsday, except they don't add that heaping of fear at the end. Actually, they don't add any emotion at all. In fact, they don't tell you if they've even liked or disliked your work. They'll answer your manuscript related questions, give their suggestions for possible changes, and even go so far as to tell you that you did it all right, without so much as cracking an online smile.
Of course there are plenty of wonderful critique partners, and I hope I've been helpful to those I've critiqued, but we all know that at one time or another, at least one of these types have graced us with their presence. And if we're being honest, we've also donned one or two of these hats ourselves. I know I have. That's why it's so enjoyable to poke fun!
So, even if you're the BEST critique partner in the WHOLE WIDE WORLD, which of these types do you sometimes tend to become? Me? The Over Achiever. I've gotten better. I've realized that just because the writer chose a way to explain something different than what I would have preferred, doesn't make it worth highlighting and commenting on. ;) But, have I been completely cured of it? Is anyone ever COMPLETELY cured? ;)