Last week my CP wrote this great post about Critique Partners. She made a lot of great points on working with a critique partner, and it got me thinking about what I’ve learned from the process of finding a CP that totally fits me.
Once I started getting serious about publication, I began to read about CPs. Everyone seemed to think you needed one. I scoffed at this for a while. I’m a picky reader. I hate reading things I don’t like and I didn’t want to get stuck with a CP whose writing would bore me. And I was a little shy about trusting my work with a total stranger who wasn’t an editor.
Then, I got to the point where enough people were saying how important CPs were that I was like… okay, let’s see what this is all about. And I posted on the eharlequin CP Needed boards and waited.
I went through 3 CPs who didn’t gel for whatever reason. They were lovely people, truly. I never came across someone who was rude or mean or anything negative, we just didn’t work, we didn’t click. Perhaps we were looking for different things or our critique styles were too different, but it didn’t work.
So, my first piece of advice on the CP front is find the right CP. Not every one will fit or click. Your CP should help you, and if they don’t… you shouldn’t be CPs anymore.
When my CP contacted me and we began to exchange chapters, we clicked. Both personality wise and helpful wise. I could not be more grateful for whatever twists of fate led us to “meet” because my CP has made my writing infinitely better. (And she listens to me whine. What could be better?)
But, if you’re like I was and kind of wondering if all this hype about having a CP is really true, if you really need a CP, if it can really be that helpful… the answer is YES.
You see, I don’t know how many times I’ve written a chapter knowing that something’s not working. There’s a piece missing. It doesn’t feel right, and yet no many how many times I go over it… I cannot figure it out. Because I’m too close. I’ve probably been thinking about that moment in the MS for weeks if not months (sometimes even years depending on how old the idea is). There are some places I cannot find the distance needed to pick out what that issue is.
My CP picks it out EVERY time. Really. I don’t even have to tell her I think something doesn’t quite work and she mentions that a motivation is weak or a character seems to be doing something out of character.
A CP doesn’t write your story for you or tell you what direction to go in (though they can oftentimes have really helpful suggestions), but they can help lead you to the aha moments you wouldn’t be able to come to on your own.
I have written (almost) three novels with the help of my CP and each one has been better, stronger as a result. And I have become a better, stronger writer… more aware of my flaws and weaknesses and more capable of dealing with them.
If you’ve been wondering if finding a CP is right for you, I can tell you almost whole heartedly that finding the right CP is right for anyone.