“I’d love to work with you as a CP…” says a lady in the Western Pennsylvania Romance Writers (WPRW) group on Yahoo.
“I’d love to work with you as a CP, too!” I respond enthusiastically. “What’s a CP?”
“Crit Partner,” she explains with a big computer ‘smiley face.’
After I LOL I type, “Ah, yes, Crit Partner! I was right – I would like to be a CP with you.”
The above “conversation” happened over a discussion thread in my recently-joined group, WPRW. I’ve only been a member for about a week and already I’ve learned so many things, including the definition – and value – of a CP.
Since working with MP (a.k.a. my new CP), I have been privy to a wealth of knowledge she has acquired over time from experience, classes, workshops, professional critiques and multiple reference books for the aspiring writer. She has taken time out of her busy schedule to critique the first two chapters of my book (both of which have “before” versions posted on this blog) and by listening to her advice I believe that both chapters are much improved. Needless to say, my comment that I had taken those chapters as far as I could was extremely uneducated and premature. At least half of Chapter One has changed dramatically and a few minor changes in Chapter Two really ramped up the emotion of the scene.
However, a CP isn’t there to tell you what you should say or write. If they did that then it wouldn’t be YOUR words in your book. Rather, she tells me when an emotion comes across flat or the pacing of the story seems to get halted in a certain section. She lets me know different ways to strengthen my sentences, if my POV (Point of View) slips from the intended character or if I used a word or phrase twice within a short span. Alternately, she also tells me what she loved about the piece – her favorite phrases, imagery she thought was particularly vivid or even how hunky she thinks my Hero is. ;) Those are always nice ego-boosters.
In return, I also critiqued one of MP’s chapters for her Historical Romance. I openly admitted to her that I have NO technical training, whatsoever (I can’t even remember my basic English classes from college), so I won’t comment on things I don’t know about. The few things that I feel I have a decent grasp of are the emotion/connection between two characters, POV (it drives me crazy when I slip in my own writing since this is a pet peeve of mine), and imagery. Beyond those types of comments, I keep my mouth shut. [NOTE: Just because I feel those are my strong-points doesn’t mean that I don’t occasionally completely miss the mark in those areas of my own writing.]
Should you acquire a CP as helpful as MP, you may be wondering if you should take all of your CP’s suggestions. Absolutely not. I would say that I’ve probably taken about 90% of what MP has suggested and I certainly wouldn’t expect her to take all of my ideas either. Or any of them for that matter. A CP is there to simply offer their opinions and knowledge. In the end, it’s still your work and up to you whether you change it or not. MP and I have gone back and forth, discussing different viewpoints of using particular phrases, words, or techniques. Sometimes we decide to leave something alone for the time being and keep our ears open for any other comments we hear on the topic.
I love being able to discuss things of a writing nature so openly with someone. We both admit we don’t have all the answers, but we’re avid romance readers with different strengths who enjoy the process of writing the Great American Romance Novel – whether historic or paranormal in nature.
So to all of you writers out there – if you haven’t already – find yourself a CP like MP A.S.A.P, get some literary TLC, and listen to their POV on your WIP. You may just find a new BFF to LOL with. TTFN!
P.S. Keep checking in for some exciting new posts starting this week where I'll be introducing the characters of my book one at a time, complete with picture! And don't forget to vote for your favorite title in the sidebar. That's definitely one I need help with!