Not after the first draft. Not after the second draft. You need to edit as much as you can until you can't see anything wrong with the story.
And then you send it out to crit partners or beta readers. Not your mom, sister or friend. They'll just keep saying. "That's so nice!"
Which isn't all that helpful.
You need someone who will read through a book and wonder about your character's motivation because you didn't highlight it enough. Or someone who'll spot a huge gaping hole in your story that you're so used to that it's just part of the scenery.
Good crit partners are also excellent cheerleaders. Not like your family, but they won't be out to cut down everything you've written. Unless you sent them a first draft. Which would be silly. Your partners will highlight what they like and what they want to see more of too. Those bits are really good for a writer's ego.
What do you do to have such an amazing writerly angel in your life? Easy. You do the same for them. Or at least promise to do the same once they're ready. This isn't a chore. There's something amazing about helping someone form their idea into what they want in the end. Just like they're helping with your book.
Where do you find crit partners? Well... there are websites that offer to match up crit partners. I'm sure the veteran novelists will be able to furnish some links in the comments.
I, however, try to get crit partners out of the bloggosphere. Every now and then, a blogger will give an opportunity for writers in need to advertise for a crit partner. Then, if you know the person and the story sounds interesting, you can offer to partner up.
...You know what? I think I'll do that today. In the comments, say you want a crit partner. Then give the following info:
- A short pitch of the book. This isn't a query pitch, so don't worry about it being perfect. Just try to get the point across. Try to keep it under 50 words.
- State whether you prefer sending out whole books or a few chapters at a time.
- What are your writing strengths? (These also gives your partner an idea of your critting strengths.)
- What are your writing weaknesses? (So people have an idea of what you need.)
- E-mail address. To those of you new to blogging, please use the following format so as to avoid spam: name(AT)domain(DOT)com/co.country code.
So... who needs crit partners? Don't forget to check the comments as well as leave your details. Mail who you think you'll like and do a trial run of the first three or so chapters. Also, don't be afraid to crit outside your genre if you enjoy reading it. But make sure your prospective partner enjoys your genre too.
Who has tips on crit partnering? Any good websites to find crit partners?