I don't think that's true. First of all, I haven't ever actually met my CPs in person. (I mean, seriously. For all they know, I could be a 50-year-old chain smoking prisoner in Colorado. One who writes cute books about superheroes and kissing, but still.) BUT because I think that's irrelevant, I'll give a different reason.
My CPs are my CPs because they're more invested in the health of my work than anything else. And because that depends on the health of me AS A WRITER, they have their work cut out for them. It's a tough balance to strike. It's a mixture of cheerleading, encouragement, sympathy, and understanding, balanced with a ruthlessly tough and objective eye.
Wanna be awesome like my CPs? Here's how.
(Note: These steps are for my "close readers" - I also have betas, who do an overall read and don't get their hands nearly so dirty, which also has its super-important place.)
1. Gush over the book during the first read through. This shows your CP that you love the project and you are invested in helping her get it into tip-top querying shape.
My CPs raved on Twitter, as you know, but I also got big fat emails from them with initial reactions. Either or both of these will work, but it gives the writer confidence that she hasn't made the wrong decision by sending her stuff out for crit, and that it's good enough for other eyes to work on.
2. Tweet lines you love and other fabulous stuff as you critique. It's really easy to use the hashtag #amcritiquing and tag your CP. My ladies will even quote a bit of the book with the hashtag #lineswelove every once in awhile.
It's easy for a writer to get stuck in an edits/revisions slump and convince herself that not only is she going to have to completely overhaul her book, but also that it will never ever EVER be finished. If you can manage to toss out little bits of love here and there, it not only assures your CP that you're actually working on her stuff, but buoys her confidence, piece by piece, to get her ready for the third (and technically most important) step...
3. Tear that sucker to shreds in (regularly sent) crit.
(Photo Credit Anne Mini)
Obviously, this is where the actual "critique" in "Critique Partner" comes in. You need to find every single problem in that manuscript and suggest a fix if you can possibly think of one. You need to be the eyes where your sweet writer friend was blind, either from love of her characters, desire to make the story flow just the way she envisioned it, and, maybe most treacherous, attachment to her darlings.
For example: Chessie just sent me the critique for the first five chapters of ONE, which, remember, we all know she loves. Here's what she did:
- Told me to cut a supporting character
- Told me that another supporting character just seems like a plot device (which OMG he is, so I've gotta cut him too.)
- Called me out on countless run-on, confusing, and clunky sentences
- Alerted me to every single place my main character made her roll her eyes (which, spoiler: wasn't none.)
- Brought up a major flaw with the way my main character views those around her
- Caught several instances of sloppy writing (example: I changed the villian's name about halfway through the book, but left his old name in Chapter 2)
- Told me I should probably combine the first two chapters into one, effectively cutting half the stuff.
- Left 110 comment bubbles and tons of in-line edit marks, changing everything from typos to bad punctuation.
Not huge changes, no. But there is a LOT of critique there, and it's just the beginning.
How do I feel about it? PSYCHED. Because I know that she seriously combed these chapters and called out everything she could see that was wrong or that bothered her. I know she'll keep doing it, and I'm 100% confident my other close readers will do the same.
My point is this. Gushing over a book on Twitter and loving on your CP will only get her so far. It's only worth anything - is only a healthy CP relationship - if you're going to step up and help your writer friend make her stuff even better.
So, get to work bringing the pain. Your CP will thank you for it.
(For another post about welcoming devastating news from your crit partners, check out this one that I wrote while Gina was critiquing THE TRAVELERS.)
What are your tips for making sure you and your CPs have the best critiquing relationship for you? Tell me in the comments, so I can add to my arsenal.