Whenever you start reading for a new critique partner, you’re hoping for the best. You want New Car Smell, and you fear that it’ll be Old Lemon Junker smell.
It’s just as stressful for the critiquer as the critiquee. What if it’s not my thing? What if I don’t like their ending? What if the third act and denoument totally remind me of Rambo: First Blood Part 2? (Wait, what?)
The thing about any critique is that it’s all about push and pull. You want to push your critique partner to make their story better, and you want them to pull the same out of you. And the benefit to critiquing someone else is that it gives you fresh eyes to see things that you already do in your own writing.
There should always be a money-back guarantee in any critique partner relationship. Sometimes, you’re just not meant to work together. Maybe you’re too harsh, or you’re not harsh enough. Or maybe you focus on the negatives, because that’s what you see, and the other person can’t see what you do. Or maybe your styles don’t mesh at all. I had a CP once who needed/wanted every tiny bit of worldbuilding elaborately explained every single time anything came up, even if it took away from the rest of the narrative. After that round, I think we realized we weren’t a great match.
But just remember that there is NOTHING wrong with this. You need critique partners that you trust, that also push you to be very best (and beyond). So if it’s not working out, just be up front. If you don’t like someone’s writing style, you’re not going to do them a service by critiquing their book. So just say that. And if someone tells you that your book isn’t their style, take that with a grain of salt.
And now with all that said, I’m off to jump back into MY new critique partners’ book. Happy Friday!