Writing buddies a.k.a. critique partners

Denise Barnes_AMM

With my writing buddy Denise at the RNA Conference

Update (April 2018) at the end

I enjoyed a ‘writerly’ evening with another novel writer, Denise Barnes who is also preparing her first fiction work. She’s already published a non-fiction book which can be seen at her site.

We swap hints and tips, recommend and exchange books, encourage each other about courses and competitions. But the best thing is that we read each other’s work and critique it. Now you have to get on well to do this, so well that you can say things that may seem harsh. But we have to be completely, and sometimes brutally, honest. It’s a pointless exercise otherwise. With both of us going through the same process, we can empathise as well as criticise.

Her novel is a dual time-line family story, mine an action thriller. While our imagined worlds are quite different, we get really involved in them. It’s spooky when she turns round to me and says things like this about my heroine,’You know that’s the sort of thing Karen would say.’

Luckily, we both have outgoing  personalities and having both owned businesses in a tough commercial environment, we have had to make difficult decisions and say things that were not always welcome. We’re quite nice really!

It’s a bit like any serious relationship: you go on a few (book) dates, get to know them, then take a leap as you move in with them (hand your whole manuscript over to them).

Trust is key: you are handing over your ‘baby’ for another to look at, assess and critique. But hopefully that person will stand as a godparent/patron/responsible adult and help the infant mature into a full-grown adult.

Update: Since I wrote this over seven years ago, I’ve published six Roma Nova thrillers and two novellas and have started a new series. Denise, my critique partner, has written another non-fiction book, also on her site, and published The Voyagers trilogy and now has a multiple-book deals as Molly Green with Harper Collins. Neither of us would have reached this point without the other.

If you write, find a critique partner/writing buddy – they’re worth their weight in gold!


Alison Morton is the author of Roma Nova thrillers –  INCEPTIO,  PERFIDITAS,  SUCCESSIO,  AURELIA,  INSURRECTIO  and RETALIO.  CARINA, a novella, and ROMA NOVA EXTRA, a collection of short stories, are now available.  Audiobooks are available for four of the series. NEXUS, an Aurelia Mitela novella, is now out.

Find out more about Roma Nova, its origins, stories and heroines… Download ‘Welcome to Roma Nova’, a FREE eBook, as a thank you gift when you sign up to Alison’s monthly email newsletter. You’ll also be first to know about Roma Nova news and book progress before everybody else, and take part in giveaways.

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