Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Thursday's Children 12/21/12

CPs & Betas

...in the words of Woody from Toy Story "If you don't have one-get one."




Ideally, get more than one. 
Just like agents, editors, and your eventual "audience", no two CPs/betas will have exactly the same reaction to your work. 
CPs and Betas help you be the best writer you can be.
How do they do this?

1. Honesty- Seriously, who doesn't LOVE to be told their book is fabulous, unputdownable, etc., but that's what your family and friends are for. To make your book as good as possible, you have to know what needs tweaking, or even a major overhaul. Objective readers and other writers can provide feedback that is worth their weight in gold.



2. Thoughtful Suggestions- As valuable as it is to know what isn't working, sometimes you have no idea how to fix it. This is where a CP's suggestions come in. Even if you don't take the suggestion literally, it can lead to a brainstorm of your very own.



3. Positive comments- Just as you must know what fell flat, you also should know what made your CP cry, in a good way, of course, or laugh, also in a good way, or say "wow", or keep on reading despite the long list of other things she should be doing.

4. Attention to detail (For CPs, not betas)-  This means actually paying close attention to what she's reading. For instance, I won a first chapter critique during a contest this fall. The person doing the crit complained that she didn't know by the end of the chapter whether the MC was "nine or nineteen". 
Yet, on page 2 I'd very specifically written, "Worse than the day sixteen years ago when my mother died. I was a baby at the time and don’t remember it." Boom.




5. Sharing the joys and tears- of both writing and trying to become agented/published, or whatever your writing goal happens to be. Writing is, for the most part, a solitary pursuit. 


Generally we're not able to do the prairie dog thing, pop up from our cubicle and fist-bump, or hand each other a tissue. So we do that via email, Facebook, Twitter... Cheering for contest wins, requests from agents, etc. And consoling each other when we don't even come close to winning the contest, or the agent rejects said request.

In some cases I've only read my CP's work, or they've only read mine, or we've just started an exchange...

But they are all people who inspire me to keep writing, to keep working at getting better, and whose own work and indomitable spirits inspire me. 
Thank you!
I wish you, and all of Thursday's Children, the very best of holidays and a successful writing year ahead. 
We're All In This Together. Alright, the acting might not have been brilliant, but there were some damn catchy tunes in this movie.


My CPs/Betas










Kristina Perez whose critique partnership also led to Thursday's Children

And here's Mr. Bean to remind you to focus on the important things this holiday season. Children, chocolate, and getting a good night's sleep.




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12 comments:

  1. This is such a true post. I don't know what I would do without my betas. Who are also SUPER close friends :)

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    1. Some of my CPs have turned into good friends, but initially they felt free to view my ms through the lens of a well-read stranger, lol. Glad you stopped by :)

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  2. Very wise.

    I take a lot away from feedback. Sometimes I eat it up. Sometimes my jaw is left hanging as I wonder where things went horribly wrong. I haven't typically viewed it as inspirational. But maybe you're right. Maybe inspiration IS the key takeaway from it.

    And yeah... those positive comments can definitely be what helps you through even the worst moments!

    Now that you mentioned it, I DO need a few Betas in the new year. YA sci-fi/fantasy. Anyone? Anyone? LOL.

    Thanks for sharing this. :)

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    1. There are a few places I've found cps/betas. If you get stuck, let me know and I'll give you a list of resources. Or for anyone participating in Thursday's Children, I can tell you I've read a little of one of John's books and it was an exciting, action-packed riff on Greek mythology.

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  3. My CP's are awesome. Life wouldn't be the same without them.

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    1. I bet they feel EXACTLY the same about you ;)

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  4. My CPs are inspiring and some of the most generous people I've ever met. I'm so grateful for Thursday's Children and you! :)

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    1. Yes, as Kristina said, CPs/Betas give us their "time" which is a true gift. Going to check out your post now.

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  5. wow. You have a lot of CP's, betas. I have two betas and one CP. They are GREAT, but I think I'd like to work with one or two more people. I'm going to see if John would be interested in working together, since he mentioned looking for someone :)

    On another note, I love Buzz and Woody! haha

    I thought you made some excellent points about what a good CP or Beta should do. I've had too many CP's who only commented on what WASN'T working. I don't want unnecessary praise, but I do want to know what's working-otherwise, how am I supposed to do MORE of it?

    And reading closely is definitely important. I can't tell you how many people I've briefly worked with who asked questions about things that were blatantly spelled out. It was like all they did was skim. Since I tend to do a really thorough job when critiquing, that's something that especially gets to me.

    Anyway, great post again this week with excellent points!! I really enjoy Thursday's children. Your CP's are all lucky!!

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    1. Oh, I'd love to see you and John working together. The more eyes the better, I always say. I enjoy Thursday's Children a lot too, most weeks it's the only post I make time for because it's THAT important. Off to see your post now...

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    2. LOL — the only danger is that my critiques all involve Bond film clips and Star Wars examples ;p

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