Lots of talk has been going around today (and recently) about CP's (which are critique partners) and what everyone values in them. Why do you have yours? Or if you don't have any, what should you look for?
What? You don't have any but aren't looking?
You don't want any?
You're doing it wrong. Get some. Now.
When I first decided to jump in the publishing pool, I had no clue what to do. I wrote my book and sent awful queries and an equally awful manuscript to a few people. The response went something like this.
Then Bria hosted a little writing party. We would write every day and check in with the teams she placed us on. This is how I met the fab Megan Whitmer.
I met a ton of people through her and figured out Twitter and being a real writer. She had CP's and get this, you read each other's work, help each other out and then you can talk about how to make it better!!! Mind blown.
You mean I don't have to do this all alone???
So I sat myself on the path to find CP's and get my work in shape for people to read and take seriously. So what makes a good CP? Lots of things. I have many of them and each one is unique and different.
AND I COULDN'T MAKE IT WITHOUT A SINGLE ONE OF THEM.
Here's a basic list of the people who make me look awesome and allow people to read my words without falling over in laughter and saying this about my writing:
1. The Hardass.
I really need this one. And this one makes me cry sometimes, but I would never tell them that! But they call me on continuity issues, when I ramble, when I use the same word over and over and over. The give me notes like Grrrrr, and Stop using that word! and Pick. Something. Else. And even though at the time I thought that was the perfect, I inevitably find a better one. They tell me when something is crap. When it needs to be reworded. When it needs to go away. Big lines through your text are the hardest edit to take, but usually, the most helpful. And then the hardass's favorite word: REWRITE.
Even though this is the result sometimes, it's for the best and I know the Hardass loves me no matter what. and if she didn't, she wouldn't care to tell me what I need to hear. So Thanks, Hardass! Love!
2. The Lover
This is the one you need as much as the Hardass. This is the CP that loves everything you do because you do it. They love your words, your speed, your slow, your ideas, your wandering plot, your typos are even cute to them. That do a lot of this all over your manuscript.
But that's not the reason they are essential. Even in their constant love and support, you can find the parts they really connect with. And some days, you really need to read those words of love and belief to get you through.
3. The Grammar Nazi
I need this one so badly I have two. I'm very good at English and grammar but I'm a horrible typist and I write really fast so sometimes, those sentences... not so much sense to them. Also - not a huge fan of remembering the commas and I have learned I have an aversion to contractions. What? I like to emphasize things. Example:
I'm going to go.
I AM going to go.
Not the same sentence. But apparently, your CP's balk if you do that in EVERY sentence. (And rightly so.) See? This is why you need them.
4. The Shared Brain
This one is like you. They get you and your writing. They write your genre and when you don't finish a thought, they know you well enough they can help you flesh it out. They know you and your characters and they are an extension of you. They know where you want to go and they drive the train to get you there. They row the boat. They are the milk to your cereal. The peanut butter to your jelly. Pick your metaphor. In short - they complete you.
5. The One Outside the Box
This one doesn't read everything I write, but when I'm extra curious this CP is the one I turn to. She doesn't write my genre. She doesn't even normally read the genre I write. Her opinion gives me such insight into my work. She can only look at the writing, the story telling, does it hook her, is she put off. Someone who is not versed in the genre you write can probably give you one of the most honest views of your manuscript. Three or more "I don't read your genre, so is this normal?" and you know you have to fix your pacing, plot and structure.
Story is story. Hook is hook. Obviously, the subject matter may not fit for them, but they can give you quite a good look from the outside that your other CP's may not see.
6. The Overaller
The one magical CP who can do it all. They find your typos, your grammar errors, your plots holes, your shortcomings, your achievements all while cheerleading you and writing their own masterpiece (or two) plus being your sounding board and holding your hand...*takes breath* and telling you that you're awesome and they love you.
They are amazeballs and I suspect rare, although I'm lucky enough to have two. So HANDS OFF! I mean, I really hope you find one of your own.
Obviously, you don't need all these, although I would recommend it. And sometimes your Grammar Nazi might be combined with the Lover or some other kind of combo pack. But if you have two or twelve, get some! For the love of all that's good and plenty, get some now!
But a word of caution, don't overload yourself. You'll be waiting for this and that person and ideas conflict and it becomes a hindrance as opposed to a help.
But do yourself a favor and build a community for yourself. Your own little writing gang that's always in your corner even when your words suck and you're ready to give up. They will lift you up and keep you going. They will keep you real and love you. They will push you until you succeed and then cry happy tears when you do.
And honestly, who wouldn't want that?
And here's a gret place to find the matches you've been looking for. http://www.cpseek.com/
It's the brainchild birthed during PitchWars and it's here to stay. So go on, go find your gang, I mean team.