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Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Stalking and Capturing a CP

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.

Finding a match is not easy. Wait. I didn’t say that with enough force. Finding a match is like looking for a single unique grain of sand on a fifty-mile beach. Improbable. Difficult. But someone is out there for you. Keep looking. Heaven blessed me with two.

Gotta CP? Still looking? Do you have a genre or scene that you won’t read or crit?


mshatch said...

I'll read almost anything but I am definitely better at critting certain genres over another. And I don't think I'd be good at critting erotica either. All those flowery descriptions of body parts end up making me laugh, which I don't think is what the author intended.

Patchi said...

I love critiquing, but it's hard to do when what you are reading doesn't grab you. I'll still force myself to trudge through my CPs MS, but I find myself spending less time at online venues helping random people if I can't relate to their work. The forced politeness is also an issue...

Bluntness has never been a problem with me, even when it stings. It just makes me want to work harder. I still remember what you said about that first MS I sent your way, and I never held it against you because you were correct. And I don't hold it against my CPs when they are wrong either. I think a mix of naked truth and flattery goes a long way, but if the people you trust won't point out what's wrong, you'll end up hearing it from readers when the book comes out.

Liz A. said...

What's worse is when someone tells you your MS is "good" when you know it needs work. Tell me how to fix it!

I haven't found what I won't crit yet. I'm sure I will eventually. Probably anything involving torture, but no one has approached me with that, so we'll have to see.

dolorah said...

I've been fortunate enough to find several CPs, both online and offline. The key is being a good partner yourself. Although, I've been dropped by several who just 'don't read that crap" but don't mind milking me first with stuff I dislike reading.

Memoir would probably daunt me though. I'm overly-constructive, and would not want to make any negative comments on someone's actual life.