Monday, February 16, 2015

Rachael Thomas - Critique Partners are Invaluable

Please Welcome Rachael Thomas to the blog today!

One of the best decisions I made as I began my writing journey was to join The Romance Writers of Australia. Apart from the great competitions they organise, I discovered the Critique Partner scheme. It definitely helped my writing and made me look at my work through different eyes. Having another writer read and critique your work is so much more beneficial than simply asking a friend or family member to do the same. After all, who would be more honest?

Critique Partners are exactly the right person to go to if you hit a sticky patch and don’t know where your story should go, or to have chapters read and critiqued and best of all, to bounce ideas around with. Whatever it is, having another writer read you work and offer constructive advice is invaluable. Why? Because as the writer, you are too close to your work. Not only do you not see those silly mistakes we all make, you can be forcing your story in a direction it doesn’t need to go. Just having someone suggest an alternative can bring you back and set you off on a much better storyline.

CP’s can also be helpful if you have deadlines for competitions or submissions and can help to keep you motivated when the going gets tough. Together you can build a nice relationship, one that can span oceans, which is exactly what happened for me. I was lucky enough to be matched with three fabulous Australian writers, Joanne, Louise and Kathi and over the years we’ve built brilliant relationships. I really hope that one day I’ll get to a RWA conference and meet them in person. I’m also very fortunate that I have several writing friends here in the UK too. We often rent a small cottage in the middle of the Welsh countryside and spend the weekend reading through each other’s work as well as writing.

So, if you are writing romance and need someone to bounce ideas off, join RWA, it doesn't matter where you live and you can select who you'd like to be partnered with on the Critique Partner scheme. It's also really helpful to link up with other writers you meet and organize your own retreat weekends.
About Rachael: I grew up in the Midlands, but when I moved to Wales, over twenty years ago, I found a place to finally put down roots. I married into a farming family and embarked on a massive learning curve which also saw me learning Welsh when my two children were small. 

Writing is something I have always wanted to do and I can still remember the thrill of one of my short stories being held up as an example to the class when I was about nine. It wasn’t until my own children were in school that I seriously started to pursue my dream. I joined a local writing group which met every Monday afternoon and being with like-minded people was the boost I needed. 

Reading romance had always been my first love, and just about every short story I wrote was romance, so I decided to write my first book. During that process I also attended my first weekend writing course with Kate Walker and joined the RNA’s fabulous New Writers’ Scheme. A short time later I joined Romance Writers of Australia and learnt a lot from entering their competitions. I sought out courses and you can imagine my joy when I discovered Sharon Kendrick’s course in beautiful Tuscany. 

 Behind the Scandalous Façade, my So You Think You Can Write entry, is my thirteenth book and although only eight have those magic words ‘the end’ written on them the others are definitely part of the learning process I have enjoyed over the last six years. 

 I love escaping to distant shores with my characters, entering their glamorous world and feeling all the emotions they experience as they discover their love for one another. A love so strong it will overcome all obstacles eventually, leading to that promised happy ever after. 

Connect with Rachael Thomas on the web: 
Website         Blog        Facebook                Twitter              Goodreads

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Claimed by the Sheikh by Rachael Thomas

Claimed by the Sheikh

by Rachael Thomas

Giveaway ends March 02, 2015.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win
Thanks Rachael! I agree - CPs are amazing and impossible to live without. My 2 crit buddies (Jean & Cali) are amazing ladies and together we've become much stronger writers. Can't imagine doing this without them!

How about you? Want to give your CPs a shoutout in the comments? How did you meet up?


  1. I have the greatest critique partners and yes, I bounce ideas off them as well, often during the outline phase.

  2. I met two CPs through a writing class, and two were personal friends who shared a love of writing. They've been invaluable in making my writing better!

  3. My CPs have been my writing lifeline. They are there to encourage me, but also so set me straight when I go array. What I cherish most about having them is the honesty we offer each other about our work. It's invaluable.

  4. Thanks for stopping by Alex, Beth and SA Larsen. CP's are just great. Can't imagine my writing life without them!

  5. Critique partners are a fabulous tool! They see much a much clearer picture of our story than we do and have more skills as to what works than just have a beta reader look at the story.

    I hit a wall on one story. Knew something was wrong. It didn't feel right around the 6 chapter. My friend and fab critiquer, spotted the issue--your MC is more drawn to character B than your main character. But you're trying to force her to fall for MC. Go back and read the clues...She was right, but I couldn't see it until then. :-)

    Sia McKye Over Coffee

  6. I'll be looking for CPs by month's end. They are muy importante and also a great source of reviews for your book. Thanks Rachel.

  7. I totally agree about critique partners. Without them, I'd never get an agent to consider my work. CPs see all the things I can't. And my critique group pushes me to go further than I've ever done before.

  8. I love my CPs! I've exchanged with a bunch of writers (between 15-20 total) but I have 4 writer friends who are my regular CPs. They not only critique for me, but we email back and forth and give each other encouragement. Couldn't do it without them!

  9. Alex - I do a lot of idea bouncing as well :)

    Beth - I don't have any 'real world' CPs yet - one day!

    Sheri - yes! That honesty is vital!!

    Sia - love those AHA! moments - my CPs are great at spotting those for me :)

    Stephen - hadn't thought of the reviews - great point!

    Theresa - exactly - they see what IS there, not what we think is there :)

    Shelley - totally agree! They make everything so much easier!

    Rachael - thanks again for a great post!

  10. There are so many great writers online now, one doesn't have to go far to find a good critique partner.

  11. I so agree. I absolutely adore my critique partners -- as people, as fellow writers, AND as wise editors. I honestly don't know what I'd do without them.

  12. I met my CP's through SCBWI. They've helped me so much. I'm the writer I am today because of them.

  13. A good critique group is invaluable. So glad you found yours.

  14. Great post and so true. CP are great if you are a match. Congrats on the release Rachael!

    Hi Jemi!

  15. Diane - so true! So many great people :)

    Caryn - exactly! I feel the same way.

    Medeia - that's awesome!

    Lee - my ladies are awesome!!!

    Kelly - finding that match is SO important!

  16. I've been part of several CP groups, and then I started my own last year. It's been AWESOME and I managed to corral some absolutely dynamite writers to be part of it! :)

  17. The Romance Writers of Australia are such a supportive group. They are wonderful.

  18. DL - that's so awesome - I love working with other brilliant writers!

    Lynda - that's great! I wish I was physically closer to our RWA group here in Canada (8 hour drive) :)

  19. I have had great experience with my beta readers. A good beta reader, or CP, or whatever you want to call it, can really help draw more out of you. And, as you say, doing the critting for others really helps illuminate your own work.

  20. Great post, Rachel. I so agree that we're too close to our work to see it clearly. Critique partners are a necessity as a writer.

  21. Good CP's are worth their weight in gold! So glad you have the right people to help you along your journey, Rachel!

  22. Sia - CP's are amazing, it's just great when they put you back on track!

    Stephen - hope you also find a great CP!

    Theresa - critique groups are so useful.

    Shelly - really pleased you've found a good group of CP's

  23. Jemi - thanks for having me on such a great blog!

    L. Diane - Absolutely agree!

    Caryn - I don't know what I'd do without mine either!

    Media - It's nice to see how we improve as writers with the input of CP's.

    Cleemckenzie - sure is!

  24. Kelly - Thanks for stopping by and for the congrats.

    DL Hammons - What a brilliant idea!

    Lynda - Joining RWA, even though I live in the UK, was one of the best decisions I've made.

    JeffO - It's amazing what a difference CP's or beta readers make.

    Natalie - They certainly are!

    Emily - I wouldn't change mine for anything!

  25. great post, rachel
    CPs are supremely important! i owe much of my better words to mine!

  26. Jeff - yes! Critiquing others is a great way to improve our own work!

    Natalie - agreed. I need a CP to point me in a direction and then I'm good to go (for a while :))

    Emily - worth their weight in chocolate too!

    Tara - me too :)

  27. Critique partners are invaluable. Mine is guest blogging on my blog this week!

  28. What an awesome post! Great to hear from Rachel. CPs are wonderful for so many reasons. I don't have one, but I do have a co-author and we do many of the same things for each other. :) I feel so lucky to have someone to help me when I am stuck or when I am having a problem with a scene or plot line. We also have other writers who help us by reading our work and giving us feedback and we do the same for them. I guess those are CPs in a way. :)

    Glad you have such great CPs! Best of luck to you, Rachel!

  29. Carol - they are! I loved her post!

    Jess - I imagine co-authors do the same job! It's too hard of a job to do it all alone!

  30. Great post. CPs are worth their weight in gold.

  31. Tara - aren't they just!

    Carol - great idea!

    DMS - pleased you enjoyed the post and that you have someone to work with. Thanks for the good luck wishes.

    Romance Reader - CP's are definitely worth their weight in gold!

  32. I'm in two crit groups, one local and one online. You're right, I don't know what I'd do without them.

  33. Great post!
    I've noticed that some writers change CP's for different projects... is it a common practise?

  34. Michelle Wallace...if you write a different genre and your CP is not comfortable with it then you do have to change.

    Eg, I've been editing one author's all contemporary and now all of a sudden she's decided to write erotica...I had to say no, as I'm not comfortable with it!

    Hi Jemi, I hope you don't mind I answered Michelle's question.

  35. LInda - one of these days I'll be brave enough to find a 'real life' crit group too!

    Michelle - that's a great question - and I see Nas has a great answer for you. I agree - having different people for different genres would be a great idea!

    Nas - thanks! :)

  36. Thanks Jemi & Nas... makes sense!

    (Jemi, yours was one of the winning definitions in my Play Along With Whacky Words challenge!)

  37. Loving all the comments. Thank you everyone for sharing all your experiences about CPs.

  38. Michelle - thanks! That's awesome - your Wacky Words are always so fun!

    Kelly - it's great, isn't it? :)

  39. Great question from Michelle and brilliant answer from Nas!

  40. RR - thanks!

    Rachael - agreed! It's great to be surrounded by smart people!