What is a CP?
Monday, August 5, 2013
When I started writing, I had no idea what CP stood for.
Now, I can't imagine my life without them.
A Critique Partner is someone you send your novel/poem/short story to for a critique in preparation for sending it out to agents or contests or publishing in general. A good critique partner is someone whose opinion you trust, whose writing you love and they love yours, and who has knowledge they can impart in the improvement of your work.
How do you build a CP group? Well, how do you make friends? The absolute BEST advice I EVER got about CPs was from Leigh Ann Kopans in her post How to Build the Best Crit Group On the Planet. All I have to say is: GO READ THAT POST. Because of her advice I have a fabulous critique group who supports me, cheers me on, and loves my work.
It's important to note that not all CPs are created equal. Some are better at overall plot consistency, story arc, or character development, some will have a fantastic grasp of the genre you're writing, others will have a good eye for typos and awkward wording. Honestly, it's best to have a good balance of multiple CPs to cover all these things, and make your novel the best it can be.
I have two that I send to first because they are fantastic at catching plot holes, character inconsistencies, general stupidness and bad plot devices. You would shudder at the horror they've seen. From their feedback I do a huge revision, then send out to my second round, three to five people I trust, writers or readers, who can tell me if there's anything still glaringly wrong with the story. With typos fixed and details corrected, I send to one last round. This is one person who has offered to read that has NEVER read my work before EVER. Hopefully at that stage, it's as good as it's gonna get.
But even when you love your CPs and trust them with your life, you won't always love the notes you get. Sometimes your most trusted CP will give you a note that really doesn't feel right for the story, and you know what? It's OKAY not to use it. If you took every note from every reader, your book would likely be so convoluted it wouldn't be yours anymore. You have to get to a point where you trust your gut instinct. It's YOUR story. Keep it that way.
Because of my amazing CPs cheering me on during the writing process, I've had had so many offers to read TARGET that I've had to turn people down.
And that is a problem I NEVER thought I'd have. But i'm SO GRATEFUL for.
Why did I turn them down? Either I wasn't familiar enough with their writing or publishing experiences to trust possible feedback, or I literally just had so many readers already. It's hard enough to give three people a deadline to have their notes back, it gets worse with five or eight or ten. And organizing those notes to decide which ones to use and which to ignore and which people are saying the same thing in different ways? Yeah. It's hard.
When you're starting out, you want to test the waters. If you find someone who's enthusiastic about your work and GETS IT, then try to keep them! If you feel like someone just doesn't understand your writing or part of it, or you didn't connect with THEIR work, then no hard feelings and you part ways peacefully. You can still be friends with people who are not your CPs. There are even one-way CP relationships that work totally fine.
It's all about respect and love and support.
So get out there, make friends, and offer to read. Learn, critique, and before you know it, you'll have a group of CPs you trust.
It works. I'm proof.
Author of YA and MG speculative fiction. Gryffindor. Mommy. Fangirl. Wandmaker.