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

41 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 online 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 a critique partner or join a writing 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 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. You’ll find tons of information about querying, pitching and finding a literary agent. Plus, the forum allows you to connect with other writers in the community. There’s also a “Query Letter and Hook Corner ” 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 Workshop

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 15,000 members and have given over 300,000 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. The Next Big Writer 

Launched in 2005, this site “combines a dynamic community of thousands of writers with cutting-edge tools, contests, classes, and communication to help members achieve their writing goals.” You’ll be able to give and receive feedback, learn from other writers, attend workshops and more. 

Cost: $69.95 per year 

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: $85 per year 

8. Critique Partner Matchup 

This straightforward Google forum/bulletin board for writers of all genres provides opportunities to network, or advertise a need, for critique partners. 

Cost: Free

9. Creative Fiction Writing Private Facebook Group 

This group prides itself on providing a supportive and resourceful community for fiction writers of all genres. This is a great place for writers to “connect with each other, get help and feedback, share writing related content, critique each other’s work, and participate in fun writing prompts and events aimed at sharpening their skills.”  

Cost: Free

10. Writers’ Group on Facebook 

This group is all about the craft of writing, and it gives members the opportunity to network with and learn from other writers. Everyone is encouraged to submit their work for group critiques and engage in local discussions. 

Cost: Free

11. 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

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

This genre-specific group guarantees that “writers improve here through the reviews and ratings given their works by other writers, and through reviewing the work of others.” The site also a scholarship fund, monthly newsletters and writing workshops.

Cost: $49 per year, but your first month is free

13. 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, except for flash fiction pieces of 1,000 words or less.

Cost: Free

14. Romance Critters

This private Yahoo! group supports writers actively and seriously pursuing a career in romance writing. New members must complete two critiques before submitting their own work, and 10 critiques before being eligible to ask for a beta read.

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

15. Scribophile

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

Cost: Free, or $65 per year for Scribophile Premium

16. Seekerville 

This active writing group for writers wants to “help others achieve their dreams” within the evolving landscape of publishing. It offers writing resources and tips, periodic open critiques, giveaways and support from the Seekerville community. 

Cost: Free

17. The Writing Gals’ Private Facebook Critique Group 

This writing critique group is for “connecting authors together who want to critique or beta read for each other.” There are no entry requirements, so once admitted into the group, get ready to give and receive feedback for work of all genres. 

Cost: Free 

18. Sub It Club Private Facebook Group

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

Cost: Free

19. 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

20. 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

21. 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 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. When you’re ready to join, send an email to the Writer Unboxed Mod Squad at ModSquad@WriterUnboxed.com and you’ll be welcomed into the group.

Cost: Free

22. Freelance Writers Den

When you join Carol Tice’s Freelance Writers Den, you get access to nearly two dozen courses (called “bootcamps”) that cover all aspects of building a freelance writing business, including how to find clients.

The Den also offers helpful forums for writers to connect. Unlike even the most active real-life writers’ group, the Den’s forums are open for your musings 24/7, and they’re organized into helpful and relevant categories, including an active peer review forum.

Here’s our full Freelance Writers Den review. Enrollment opens a few times each year.

Disclosure: The Freelance Writers Den is a partner of The Write Life. We hold our advertisers to high standards and vetted this critique site just like the others on this list. 

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 organizations have a fee-based membership.

23. Florida Writers Association (FWA)

With over 1,300 members and more than 50 local writers groups, this growing organization is dedicated to supporting authors and aspiring writers in the Sunshine State. 

Besides having access to critique groups and partners near you, a membership with FWA also grants you discounts to conferences and other events, reduced advertising rates in The Florida Writer magazine, access to editorial services and more. 

Cost: $59 per year

24. American Christian Fiction Writers

Their mission is “to empower Christian novelists by inspiring them  to join with God in the creative process, training them in the craft, and educating them in the publishing industry.” The organization’s membership offers critique groups, access to private Facebook groups, exclusive online writing courses, members-only discounts and more.

Cost: The first year’s membership costs $75, and subsequent renewals are $49

25. Erotica Readers & Writers Association

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

Cost: Free

26. 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 Facebook groups and pages , and holds “writing, editing and social events.”

Cost: $50 per year

27. 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 $75  per year

28. International Women’s Writing Guild

A network “committed to empowering women writers with innovative and diverse professional resources, mentoring, and support,” the guild holds conferences and regional events, runs a members-only Facebook page and offers members-only discounts.

Cost: $75 per year

29. 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 all produce a newsletter and most hold regular meetings  where you can interact with other members. Among other benefits, they also offer a national manuscript critique program, organize symposia and conferences and present the yearly Edgar awards.

Cost: $115 per year

30. National Association of Memoir Writers

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: $149  per year

31. Pacific Northwest Writers Association

This group is regional, rather than based on genre, and is focused on supporting writers by providing “accessibility to the publishing industry, and participation in an interactive, writer community.” It offers free advertising/promotion through PNWA’s site and email, member meetings, networking opportunities, access to critique groups and a very active community of members. Plus, members receive discounts to PNWA conferences, workshops, contests and other events. 

Cost: $65 per year

32. Romance Writers of America

This friendly and helpful group is dedicated to advancing the “professional and common business interests of career-focused romance writers through networking and advocacy and by increasing public awareness of the romance genre.” 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 Novelists’ Association in the U.K. 

Cost: $99 per year, plus a $25 processing fee for new and reinstating members

33. 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, support and educational and networking opportunities, as well as 50+ chapters worldwide.

Cost: $40 per year for an Active membership, $50 per year for a Professional membership

34. 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 updates, audio recordings, members-only discounts on various events and more.

Cost: $75 for the first year, $65 per subsequent year 

35. 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

36. 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:

37. 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.”

38. 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.”

39. 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.

40. Twitter

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

41. 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!

This is an updated version of a story that was previously published. We update our posts as often as possible to ensure they’re useful for our readers.

Photo via GuadiLab / Shutterstock 

Filed Under: Craft
FREE NEWSLETTER

Enjoyed that post? Subscribe for more:

63 comments

  • pravin says:

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

  • Katherine says:

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

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • Cathy,

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

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • I’m glad you found it helpful!

  • 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!

  • 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.

Speak Your Mind

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.