Or Critique Partners...How to Destroy Them.
So you wrote a manuscript, read, re-read, edited, and cut. Now you need a critique partner. Or two. Or three.
You find several betas/cps and begin the process of exchanging mss.
But one quits. She says she isn’t your type. “It’s me not you.”
Oh, but it’s always you, isn't it.
Talk about a blind date and all the awkwardness involved with meeting strangers. This is much worse. We’re talking about wringing out your mind and handing over that dripping cloth holding your deepest thoughts to someone who you only recognize via a blog.
Copyright issues? Theft? Is that the worst that can happen? Well, yeah probably. But even if that person was on the up and up, there are other issues. Namely, a match that works for both of you.
Reading another’s manuscript involves enthusiasm, knowledge, tact, and, sometimes, determination. Jumping into another writer’s world has consequences and it isn’t pretty.
Roadblocks spring up and soon you can’t go on. The biggest are:
Genre. A lady came up to me at a book signing event and asked what Wilder Mage was about. I said it concerned a wizard living in modern times who was evading a wizarding guild—
“Stop,” she said. “I don’t read that kind of crap.” She looked a little disgruntled as if I had insulted her by displaying my book.
Ah. Okay then.
If you find a good editing partner, make sure they like and enjoy your genre, especially sci-fi/fantasy. Westerns is another genre snooty people tend to look down their noses.
Knowledge. One of my earliest CPs was ahead of me in style and craft. She read a chapter or two and told me she couldn’t go on. She said I wasn’t in her league and had nothing to offer, indicating I was, well, bad.
And I was. When I started, my writing was upchuck material. I made mistakes but gradually I learned and found many avenues to improve. At this juncture, I am more like the lady who told me the truth, unable to read or enjoy horrible writing. I never took offense at her comment, btw. She was blunt and I understood. Then and now.
Sex. I read and critique nearly everything. YA, NA, contemporary, Sci-Fi, Fantasy. I’ve never edited a memoir, but I wouldn't have a problem with it. I’ve critted bloody scenes while eating a sandwich, toiled through teen-speak, muddled around MG. No problem. But send me a graphic sex scene and I freeze. Erotica and all its minions has passed me by. I can’t, just can’t critique super instructive intercourse. I skip. I turn the page. Can’t.