40 Places to Find a Critique Partner Who Will Help You Improve Your Writing

40 Places to Find a Critique Partner Who Will Help You Improve Your Writing

When you’re rewriting your manuscript and figuring out how to make your second draft even better than your first, sometimes it’s not enough to work on your own. 

As a writer, it’s hard to read your own story with an impartial, critical eye. This is where a critique partner or writing group can be invaluable in helping you hone your skills and improve your writing. Good critique partners can help by:

  • Giving you a valuable outside perspective. When you’re too close to your own work, or mired in self-doubt, a critique partner can offer both suggestions and reassurances.
  • Providing accountability. It’s easier to blow off an internally imposed deadline than it is to disappoint someone who is expecting to review your pages on a certain date!
  • Offering support. Great critique partners believe in you when you don’t believe in yourself.
  • Acting as a practice run. At some point, you’re either going to submit your work to editors and agents, or you’ll self-publish. Both routes take an enormous amount of courage. Being willing to receive criticism helps build up your confidence and courage, and teaches you how to release your work into the wild.

But how do you find these critique partners or join a group?

Connecting with other writers to form a critique group sounds harder than it really is. Here’s a list of 40 resources to help you find other writers interested in trading critiques.

Find a Critique Partner

Online writing critique groups 

These are websites and private writing groups dedicated to helping you find critique partners or learn about writing. They target a wide array of authors, though some focus on specific genres or styles.

Some of these sites involve a paid membership, although many are free. Also, many require that you critique in order to receive critiques, to keep a fair balance of work given versus help received.

1. Absolute Write Water Cooler

Absolute Write is one of the web’s most active writing forums. Check the discussion board “Beta Readers, Mentors, and Writing Buddies” (but acquaint yourself with other boards first).

Cost: Free

2. Agent Query Connect

This community is especially great for writers interested in traditional publishing. There’s a “want ads” section where people advertise for critique partners.

Cost: Free

3. Critique Circle

This group is initially a bit complex. You earn “credits” for critiquing other people’s work, that you can apply towards getting your own work critiqued. This system is great for people who have been burned in other groups, doing the brunt of the commenting and getting no feedback. Many people have met partners through Critique Circle.

Cost: Free

4. Critique.org Workshops

This community started as the “Critters” group for science fiction and fantasy writers, but they are expanding into “all genres of writing” — literary and mainstream, mysteries, thrillers, romance, children’s, and even screenplays and nonfiction writing.

They have over 10,000 members and have given over 280,000 critiques since 1995.

Cost: Free

5. The Desk Drawer

This is an interactive, email-based writing workshop. Its administrators encourage accountability and require a set number of critiques per month, per member. Admission is based on a writing sample.

Cost: Free

6. How About We CP

This Tumblr site allows you to search for a critique partner by genre, or submit your own profile to allow others to find you.

Cost: Free

7. Inked Voices

These cloud-based critique groups are typically limited to four to eight writers in a genre. All groups are private and invitation only.

To join an existing group, go to “Groups” and search by genre, organization or any other keyword you think would be relevant. You can then look at group profiles and, if you find one you’re interested in, send a note to the group facilitator asking to join.

Cost: Free

8. Kingdom Writers

This forum/bulletin board for Christian writers provides critiques and opportunities to network for critique partners.

Cost: Free

9. Ladies Who Critique

This women-only service matches up potential critique partners by genre and desired critique frequency. It allows you to have some trial “dates,” swapping a few chapters to check for compatibility.

Cost: Free

10. Miss Snark Critique Partner Dating Service

The anonymous administrator only offers this service periodically — she’s done three, but it doesn’t appear she held one in 2014 — but it’s a useful site to keep an eye on.

Cost: Free

11. Mystery Writers Forum

Network with other mystery writers and connect with possible critique partners, especially on “writing advice” board.

Cost: Free

12. Nathan Bransford’s Forums

Nathan Bransford, famed agent-turned-writer with an active social media community, runs a board dedicated to finding a critique partner.

Cost: Free

13. Online Writing Workshop for Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror

This genre-specific group exchanges critiques and offers some professional reviews. The site also offers moderated groups.

Cost: $49 per year

14. Quantum Muse

This online magazine accepts sci-fi, fantasy and alternative pieces up to 8,000 words. Since all submissions are peer reviewed, you’ll receive feedback on your work from the community. You aren’t allowed to submit until you’ve earned credits by critiquing.

Cost: Free

15. Romance Critters

This private Yahoo! group supports writers actively and seriously pursuing a career in romance writing.

Cost: Free, but you’ll need to apply and be approved

16. Scribophile

Similar to Critique Circle, you earn “karma points” by critiquing others’ work, which you need to get critiques of your own writing. The site also features workshops and resources.

Cost: Free

17. The Seekers

This active writing group for Christian writers offers periodic “critique partner cyber match-ups.” Simply email administrators with your name and genre or sub-genre, and they’ll pair you up.

Cost: Free

18. SF Novelist

This site is for science fiction novelists, especially those focused on “hard science” sci-fi. It follows the submission-credits model as well, where you must critique other submissions to earn feedback on your own work.

Cost: $10 per year

19. Sub It Club Private Facebook Group

A networking and support group based on Facebook that specializes in helping people submit their work. If you need help with query letters and pitches, this is a great option.

Cost: Free

20. Swirl and Swing

This private, poetry-focused critique group is open to new members, though they try to maintain a “small and intimate” atmosphere. Two poetry samples required.

Cost: Free

21. Writing to Publish

Originally founded in 1994 by the editors of Writer’s Digest magazine, this established critique group is especially open to literary fiction writers and holds live online chat meetings. To become a “full member,” each new prospect needs to attend a few live chats and submit at least two critiques prior to submitting work.

Cost: Free

22. Writer Unboxed Private Facebook Group

This networking group offers a critique partners document — search it for potential partners, and add your name and details so others can contact you. Currently at nearly 5,000 members, it’s a very open, sharing and convivial group.

No self-promotion is allowed, and members maintain a strict focus on writing. I’ve been a member of the WU community for years, and have found beta readers and developed strong friendships as a result.

Cost: Free

Writing organizations

These professional groups support writers and often focus on specific genres. They’re great places to find industry information and publishing advice, as well as writing-specific instruction.

Check out local chapter meetings, or participate in online member forums if possible. Getting to know people is the easiest way to find readers you’ll be comfortable with, who may be open to critique swapping. Note: most of these organization have a fee-based membership.

23. American Christian Fiction Writers

Their mission is “to advance Christian Fiction by inspiring writers to join with God in the creative process, training them in the craft, and educating them in the publishing industry.” The organization offers critique groups.

Cost: The first year’s membership costs $65, and subsequent renewals are $45

24. Erotica Readers & Writers Association

An “international community of people interested in the provocative world of erotica,” this organization offers extensive author resources including market news, calls for submissions, a private email discussion list and a forum.

Cost: Free

25. Historical Novel Society

Founded in the U.K. in 1997, this international society runs competitions to discover new authors, holds conferences and reviews many historical novels in The Historical Novels Review. It also maintains internet groups and lists, and holds “writing, editing and social events.”

Cost: $50 per year

26. Horror Writers Association

This nonprofit worldwide organization of writers and publishing professionals is “dedicated to promoting dark literature and the interests of those who write it.” They sponsor the yearly Bram Stoker Awards for excellence in horror and dark literature. There are regional chapters as well as a mentoring program. Unpublished writers can join at an affiliate level.

Cost: Individual membership is $69 per year

27. International Women’s Writing Guild

A network “for the personal and professional empowerment of women through writing,” the guild holds conferences and regional events and runs a members-only Facebook page.

Cost: $50 per year

28. Mystery Writers of America

This organization is “dedicated to promoting higher regard for crime writing and recognition and respect for those who write within the genre.” Based in the United States, it has 11 regional chapters, which often have Facebook pages and other social media channels where you can interact with other members. They also offer sponsorships for writers, organize symposia and conferences, and present the yearly Edgar awards.

Cost:$95 per year

29. National Association of Memoir Authors

They teach “the skills to write a memoir that weaves craft and truth” and have a wide range of member benefits. They also offer monthly “Group Laser Coaching” with Linda Joy Myers to help with memoir writing process, and have a members-only Facebook group.

Cost: $50 per year

30. Pacific Northwest Writers Association

This group is regional, rather than based on genre, and is focused on writers near Seattle, Washington. It offers raffles for developmental reviews from one of the board members, regional meetings, and a very active community of members.

Cost: $65 per year

31. Romance Writers of America

This friendly and helpful group is dedicated to promoting romantic fiction. They have chapters all over the United States, including several specialized online chapters dedicated to specific sub-genres. Local chapter meetings are often monthly, featuring informative speakers.

You can meet people in person or connect online to find possible critique partners. For those outside the United States, there is also RWAustralia and the Romantic Novelist Association in Britain.

Cost: $95 per year

32. Sisters in Crime

This organization formed in response to the growing use of graphic sadism against women in mysteries, as well as the lack of women authors being nominated for awards or reviewed in the same percentage as men. The group offers mentoring and networking opportunities as well as regional chapters.

Cost: $40 per year

33. Small Publishers, Artists, and Writers Network (SPAWN)

This group provides “information, resources and opportunities for everyone involved in or interested in publishing.” It offers an email discussion group, market update, audio recordings and various events.

Cost: $65 per year

34. Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCWBI)

This is one of the largest existing organizations for writers and illustrators, focusing specifically on “writing and illustrating for children and young adults” in not only novels, but magazines, film, television and multimedia.

There are regional chapters and an online community. They also offer awards and grants as well as programs and events.

Cost: $95 for the first year, $80 per subsequent year

35. Western Writers of America

Founded to promote “the literature of the American West,” this group has a yearly convention and distributes the yearly Spur Awards for distinguished writing in the Western field. It also has a Facebook page where networking may be possible, as well as a directory of over 650 members.

Cost: $75 per year

Social media platforms

Keep it simple by finding like-minded writers in places you already hang out. If you’ve already connected with other authors on your social channels, just put out a request, saying, “I’m looking for people interested in swapping critiques! I write (genre). Anyone interested?”

If you haven’t built up a network, here are several places to look:

36. Wattpad

This social platform lets authors share stories with millions of readers for free. Many authors publish to get feedback or gauge traction for titles, or offer the first few chapters of a longer work as a teaser.

To find potential partners, search for people by querying “critique groups” or “looking for critique partner.”

37. Goodreads

While it’s known mostly for its reviews and genre-specific discussion groups, plenty of writers use Goodreads to connect with other authors. Search for “[your genre] + writers” or “critique groups.”

38. Facebook Groups

Facebook has myriad private and public groups of authors. Search for “[your genre] + writers” or “critique groups,” or try one of these Facebook groups for writers.

39. Twitter

Put out a call for critique partners, adding the popular #amwriting hashtag, to see if anyone writing in your genre is interested in swapping critiques.

40. Meetup

Interested in a local, face-to-face group? Meetup is a social networking site that connects people in real life, based on common interests. Type in “critique group” or “writing group” to find groups within a set radius of your location.

Finding a critique partner that “fits” can take time

It’s a bit like dating: you may find that there are some critique partners who are wonderful people, they’re just not right for you.

You may need to try several different critique partners to find people who fit with you and your writing. Be honest if something isn’t working for you, and don’t take it personally if it doesn’t work for your partner.

You may also work with different critique partners to seek feedback on different aspects of your writing. For example, perhaps one partner specializes in plot and pacing, while another helps you focus on dialogue or characterization. Mix, match, and be open minded.

Many writers in these groups and organizations are keen to connect with other authors. Hang out, read other people’s responses, and start asking questions of your own.

Most of all — have fun! Writers are a wonderful community, and you’ll be glad you connected.

Are you looking for a critique partner or beta reader? Start here! Include your genre or focus in the comments, and perhaps you’ll connect with a new critique partner!

Filed Under: Craft
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  • Thanks for posting such a great, comprehensive list of online resources.

    One benefit of using an online critique group instead of “real” people, is that you won’t usually get any personal bias from a critiquer online. In other words, where a friend or family member might be afraid to criticize your work, you’ll get a more objective response on a critique site.

    On the other hand, you’ll get better–possibly long term or ongoing–evaluations of your work using a close group of local writers.

    I think it’s best to use all available options.

    • There are definitely pros and cons to online versus face-to-face critiques. In a perfect world, you would have an in-person group for your regular brainstorming and accountability, and online resources for beta reading and “fresh eyes”. But for some people, finding an in-person group is difficult, either because they live in a rural area, or their area simply doesn’t have enough writers. So this will hopefully help.

      Thanks for commenting!

      • I’ve recommended both for years, because I have belonged to an online group and a face-to-face group for over a decade. Two different processes. In person is more fluid and impromptu while the online is usually way more in-depth.

  • Amanda says:

    Fantastic list! We don’t have a large writing community where I live so I’m sort of stuck with networking online, so I’m excited to check these out. I’m bummed that the Writer Unboxed Facebook link doesn’t work because Facebook groups can be pretty hit-or-miss and this one seemed great.

    • Amanda, I’m glad you like the list. People who have a difficult time finding a writing community where they live are exactly who I had in mind when I wrote the article. The WU Facebook link works for me, but I’m wondering if it’s because I’m a member — I just wrote to the moderator, and I’ll get you a working link as soon as I hear back. Thanks, again!

  • I’m glad you found it helpful!

  • Great list! Very well organized and focused – a real keeper. Thank you! Another resource for those who write WOMENS FICTION is the Women’s Fiction Writers Association (WFWA). Dues are $48 a year – which includes online guest speakers, book clubs, query and synopsis help etc. The group is a year and a half old and already has 500 members. When someone requests to be placed in a critique group, we survey their interests and learn where they are with their own work before placing them in a group. We also keep in touch to be sure they are working with like minds and that their group is an effective means of support. It’s a valuable resource for WF writers.

  • Michele, thanks for pointing that one out! Isn’t Donald Maass going to be a guest speaker there soon? I think I read about that over at the Writer Unboxed community.

    • Michele Montgomery says:

      Yes! Donald’s course starts Feb. 9, 2015 – registration closes on the 6th. (The online course runs the week, is open only to WFWA members and costs an additional $45 – a bargain for his level of expertise.) Donald did that course for us last year and it was wildly successful. Many writers submitted their work and got personal feedback on how to improve. Submitting work isn’t mandatory. We all learn from the writing that’s presented. Thanks for asking Cathy!

  • Laura Smith says:

    This is awesome, thanks so much. I’d like to add that sometimes the best critiques don’t come from other writers; I’ve been really lucky to find people who don’t write but are intelligent readers who are excellent at pointing out when something is absolutely not working and then suggesting an alternative. Depending on what you’re looking for, you might not need to look farther than a friend who reads a lot.

    • I agree — you don’t necessarily need writers to beta read your work. Sometimes, a solid and thoughtful reader can be more helpful than an inexperienced writer. For a more in-depth critique (rather than just “this works for me” and “this didn’t”) an experienced writer can usually give some suggestions regarding craft and plot issues in more detail than non-writers. It really does depend on what you’re looking for!

      Thanks for commenting!

    • Web Weber says:

      I agree with you Laura.
      I have been doing on-line & face to face crit groups now for 19 years. Many of them have or are working on MFA writing degrees. So I set about looking up all the statistics I could find & my estimate is the of all the novel shoppers going to the counter at Barnes & Noble, less than 0.1% have MFA degrees.
      They are simply not my target market. intelligent & active reader friends are, as you point out, the best source.

    • Web Weber says:

      I agree with you Laura.
      I have been doing on-line & face to face crit groups now for 19 years. Many of them have or are working on MFA writing degrees. So I set about looking up all the statistics I could find & my estimate is that of all the novel shoppers going to the counter at Barnes & Noble, less than 0.1% have MFA degrees.
      They are simply not my target market. Intelligent & active reader friends are, as you point out, the best resource.

  • Cathy,

    Thanks for organizing and publishing this list.
    Honest, compassionate, story-oriented CPs are worth their weight in gold.

  • Hi Cathy
    Thanks for this great list! I’m interested in editing my memoir—childhood memories and the aftermath—but I’m drawing on fictional techniques as much as possible. Any suggestions where to start?

    • Memoir is tricky, since it’s your story, but it still needs to work in the same way a novel does — drawing the reader in, showing some sort of arc or journey, knowing what to showcase and what to edit out without losing authenticity. I know the Gotham Writers have a 10-week workshop strictly on memoir writing, and I believe several of the people over at Writer Unboxed are working on memoirs. And #29, the National Association of Memoir Authors, may have a good list of resources to draw from. Good luck with your project!

  • Hi Cathy, what a useful article! Following on from the reader comment – your local book group may also enjoy the chance to read and comment on an author’s new work.

  • Katherine says:

    Definitely a great list. Thanks for sharing. I think I might have to share it on my FB page too. 🙂

  • pravin says:

    Finding life partner was very hard in old days but now it is very easy using dating site

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