Having crit partners are incredibly helpful. I have two and they always catch those little areas that I miss. A writer can sometimes be too close to her work and just not see the flaws, whereas a crit partner will see it, sometimes fix it, or offer alternate suggestions.
Edie tends to catch a lot of my grammatical errors while Michelle is more of seeing the “whole picture”. Actually, I think I pretty much do the same thing. I like to read through an entire portion of a crit submission and try to find anything that just doesn’t jell with me. There are always little nits to be found, but I think it’s the overall vision that’s more important. The story has to meld together and make sense. Otherwise, the reader will be disappointed. I think as authors, we have to put out the best work we can. Running a story through a crit partners and then Beta readers will ensure that’s accomplished.
If you’re a writer and don’t have a crit partners, I highly recommend finding one. Not easy, mind you. You have to find someone who fits. One who will be critical and helpful rather than tear you to pieces. One whose opinion you can trust. Not sure how one would go about finding one. I got lucky and was invited by Edie to join an on-line crit circle. There were eight of us and we’d broken into two groups of four. Eventually, as some of the writers became authors and just became too busy to participate. Still, we’ve all become friends and stay in touch … whether via the internet or meeting at conferences. I consider these ladies some of my best friends despite the fact we might actually meet person to person once or twice a year.
So you see … a crit partner (to me) is priceless.