I currently have 4 acting CPs (Crit Partners) for my WIP, Soul Seduction. I will fully admit that I'm probably making things a tad harder than I should by having 4 because the more diverse feedback you receive, the more confusing it can be as to what actions to take with their suggested changes. However, there's no way I'd ever want to drop any of them because they all bring different talents to the table, and amazingly enough, their comments never conflict with one another. I'm so grateful to each of them for their insight and unconditional support.
But, the specific incident that brought me to this topic is my one CP, Ella. That's not really her name, by the way--it's Lea Ann (pronounced as Lee Ann)--but my fingers didn't like typing her full name, so I switched to LA, but saying those letters together sounded awkward, so then I changed the A to the short sound and when spoken (or thought), it becomes Ella. But I digress...as usual. (sorry!)
So Ella is reading my first novel, Desires of the Soul. I should also point out that she gets paid to edit fiction for publishing companies. But when I gave her DotS, I thought, "Go ahead and read it, honey, and tell me if there are any slow parts or parts you think I could cut to get my word count down." Because I have edited the CRAP out of that book, I figured she'd be more or less just reading for enjoyment with a comment here and there about repeated words or unnecessary sentences.
I certainly did NOT expect her to come back with comments like:
- Why is she acting this way?
- I don't understand his motivation.
- Why is she letting him get away with that?
- I feel like she's not reacting strongly enough here.
Then when I stopped hyperventilating and read my chapter with a fresh mind, I said, "Holy f&$%, she's right."
Here's the thing: I consider my strength as a CP to others my ability to recognize unnatural reactions in the story's characters. At the risk of sounding arrogant, I feel I'm very good at character/relationship development. So I was more than a little stunned to find out that I hadn't recognized it in my own writing!
My husband is fond of the saying, "Those who can't do, teach." But maybe that saying is incomplete. Maybe it should be something along the lines of, "Those who can't do, need a CP." Because here's what it comes down to: it's much easier to see someone else's mistakes than our own, whether it's with writing or professional football. How many times have we heard men yell at the coaches on the television because they called the wrong play. Or at the quarterback because that other dude "was wide open!"
So, if everyone in the world had an awesome CP who could show them where they're not quite hitting the mark and offer suggestions on how they might make it there, maybe everyone could do what they strive to be good at.
Okay, so maybe the CP theory can't really apply to everyone and everything. But wouldn't it be nice if it did? :)
All I know is, I'm so grateful to all of my CPs and Betas who don't let me settle for mediocrity in my writing. I might grumble and complain like a teenager made to redo her homework correctly this time, but in the back of my mind I'm so thankful for all of their tough love. Because it means they believe I can do better, and they believe in me. And I love them for it.
Until next time,