Critique Partner Unleashed

Suzanne is busy furiously working on magazine deadline, so I am here in her stead. Hello!
Who am I? Well, I’m at Wastepaper Prose, the critique partner Suzanne talks about but keeps locked in a closet or cage. Whatever’s handy. Although, I’m known in more casual, non-virtual circles as Susan. (And that is not  Stonehenge, but FOAMHENGE, an underappreciated tourist attrcation in Virginia.)
I’d like to say that I’m sneaking around on her blog posting without her knowledge, but that would be a lie. She knows I’m here. She asked me to pop over and share something profound and insightful with her readers.
Too bad that’s not in my agenda. *rubs hands together evilly*


Those of you who follow the blog regularly know that I affectionately refer to my beloved critique partner as Rain Man the Novelist. If she’s Rain Man, then I’m her Charlie Babbitt. (If this means nothing to you, please crawl out of your hole!) Like them, our odd little critique partnership works.

No, I don’t mean that I’m her keeper. She’s a grown woman. What I mean is that she’s the meticulous, detail-oriented planner, and I’m the seat-of-my-pants, fly-by-night, “let’s surge ahead and she if this works, all consequences be damned” part of our partnership. I am the one who, on rare occasions, convinces her to cut loose! Go wild! Run free! (I’m desperately fighting the urge to break into song right now and reenact some montage from a bad 80s movie.)

Rain Man delights in the writing process. The niggly little details. He’s the type of person who, during the telling of a anecdote, asks what color someone’s shirt was or if it was cold that day. He color-codes plot lines and recently had the thrill of his life on discovering a storyboarding workshop. (To your right you will find evidence that sometimes color-coding only serves to make you feel better.)

These are all writing concepts I cannot fathom. Never in my wildest dreams could I imagine color-coding a manuscript or crafting an elaborate outline. I’m not even sure I know the meaning of the word outline. I once had great aspirations of becoming a planner, but the pantser is ingrained in me. And it’s part of what makes our partnership work.

Suzanne is an overthinker. I go with the flow. She needs a wild and crazy solution, and I’m there in the clinch. I need direction, and she puts me back on my path. Sometimes she even dusts my fanny off in motherly way before sending off into the world again.

I’d love to tell you the riveting tale of how me met. I’d start the story with some cliched, but suspenseful phrase, like: “It was a dark and stormy night…” But that story simply doesn’t exist.

The truth is that when you are potentially the only two sane people on a fantasy forum with thousands of other would-be Robert Jordans, you cling to one another for dear life. That’s how me met. We’ve been together ever since. It was a critter love connection. A very field of daisies moment.

The funny thing is that we exchanged numerous e-mails early on, but we neverexchanged writing samples. At least, not until our partnership was established. All we knew was that we were both established journalists and budding fiction writers tackling genres that were siblings. Fitting, considering my critter and I have a near 20 year age difference. Suzanne, with her sage wisdom and years of experience, writing adult urban fantasy and me, the spontaneous younger half of our duo, writing young adult (YA) urban fantasy.

Our brains just seem to sync up on the oddest of things. I can’t tell you how me manage it, but we get to talking (which we do everyday) and, no matter how ridiculous the conversation is, we manage to solve our problems and get back to writing. Before finding her, I went through a lot of bad matches, as evidenced HERE.

Together we’ve braved NaNoWriMo, avoided the implosion of a short-lived critique group and are currently navigating through the wide world of publishing. She much closer than I. I’m working on it! I swear. Damn book should have finished itself a long time ago.

I guess the point of this whole less than thought-provoking ramble is that a good critique partner is hard to find. Sometimes you luck into them. Other times you have to kiss a lot of frogs if you know what I mean.

Regardless of how you find them, a good one it’s worth having. Especially if they’ll respond to you an inhuman hours of the night because you’re screaming at your computer scream and don’t know why. Not that I ever do that…

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About Suzanne Johnson

Author of urban and paranormal fantasy and romantic suspense, currently living in Auburn, Alabama. Author of the Sentinels of New Orleans series (Royal Street; River Road: Elysian Fields, Pirate's Alley, and Belle Chasse (Nov 2016). Writing as Susannah Sandlin, she is the author of the Penton Legacy series (Redemption; Absolution; Omega; Storm Force; Allegiance); The Collectors series (Lovely, Dark, and Deep; Deadly, Calm, and Cold); and the upcoming Wilds of the Bayou series (Book 1, Wild Man's Curse) releases April 2016).

One thought on “Critique Partner Unleashed

  1. You two are so lucky to have each other. I’m jealous. Although I have beta readers, they don’t do a deep critique of my writing so I’m on the lookout for a great critique partner. It’s not easy to find one, you’re so right about that!

    ~Nicole