Thursday, April 7, 2011

A Good Critique Partner (CP)

So, this is not the first post I am writing about my awesome CP. After her last bout of awesomeness I decided we too have reached a level where we can actually tell people what it takes to have a good CP and be one.
I know as writers, we have "thick skin", but sometimes I wonder how thick our skin really is? Can we truly say we don't get a moment of self doubt (if not worse) when we get a rejection slip? A CP is supposed to be the next best thing we have to an editor, so why don't we always take their word as gospel truth?
There are two kinds of relationship you can have with a CP
Uber Professional - Here you are guided by rules, monthly or weekly meetings. The advantage here is you are more productive and structured  as a writer.
Uber buddies - Mostly anything goes, but you still get the job done. This is where I fall into. I dont have that 'the sky is falling' attitude in life, so it is very difficult for me to apply rules to something I consider fun and joy.
Somewhere in between - I bet most people fall in this category, it actually makes the most sense to me.

Now here is my argument for why being uber buddies with my CP works for me. It is easier to take criticism from a friend than anybody else. If I do a crit for anyone I find myself apologizing profusedly the first time in case I come across as condescending.
I can actually be snarky in my crit and she would know I am just kidding. She knows my weaknesses, and better yet we chat almost everyday. It's like we were made for each other in literary heaven.
Enough about me tho' what kind of CP works best for you. As usual, I always want to know what it's like on the other side.

xoxo

Joanna

30 comments:

  1. I'm very lucky to have a whole gang of uber-buddies, the awesome Minxes of Romance. I agree that you need to be able to hear criticism, and for me its easy because the group of ladies that form the minxes are clever and skilled writers, but also great friends who try to deliver the blows without killing the recipient!

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  2. @ Sally, LOL. It's great to have uber critique buddies and better still, they should be able to criticise in a way that's painful yet painless because we all need to be constructively criticised in order to grow and keep developing and evolving.

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  3. Joanna, where have you been?

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  4. Yay for your fabulous Ubber Buddy CP!!! I tend to rely on a few CPs - some friends, some not (LOL!) to get a good overall view of things! But I'm yet to develop an uber thick skin tho.
    :-)

    Take care
    x

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  5. I think it's hard not to have a close connection with a CP. Delivery of feedback is so important, though. It's possible for it to be brutal and kind at the same time, though. Hope that makes sense.

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  6. I, for one, have pretty thin skin when it comes to my writing...but it is getting thicker! I've found that the CP's I have been working are really good at pointing out the good along with the bad, and since we know each other's strengths and weaknesses, I can look at the comments on my work and learn a great deal (after I get through the "Oh, I suck, I should just pack it in" part).

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  7. Good critique partners are awesome. I can be snarky in critiques, too, so I totally get what you mean.

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  8. I have a few CP's and they are AWESOME. They know they can be blunt and I take no offense. I'm more subtle, but I get my point across.

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  9. Finding a good CP is like finding a good husband. But the kind of husband who tells you that YES you do look fat in those jeans. LOL.

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  10. I have failed miserably in finding a CP. This is due to ME! I don't follow up with potential CP's because I really don't see why they would want me as their CP. So I flap around a bit and then I flounder. HeyHo! I am wearing my feel sorry for myself cap at the minute. :)

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  11. great CPs are an invaluable resource. I'm so thankful for mine. And you're right. They're a trusted shoulder when you need to cry and need a little encouragment. Good stuff~ :o)

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  12. For a shocking moment I thought you were participating in the A - Z Challenge Joanna, ha ha. But isn't this a fraught subject. I'm all for the Uber Buddy CP. I need the criticism eked out with drops of honey and I respond really well.

    Denise<3

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  13. And as someone who has critiqued Ann, hmm, surely I provided enough honey on the spoon!

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  14. I'm still struggling to find a CP I can have a good working relationship with. In fact, my last one hasn't returned an email or my book in four months. Hopefully everything is okay with her, but I think it's time to try someone else. Now that you have a good one, you hold onto her!

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  15. Hi Joanna, I've been enjoying catching up with your last couple of posts on the great punctuation battle. I don't think I've ever read Eats Shoots and Leaves but I remember the cute panda pic on the cover of the edition I saw.

    On the critique partner question, I'll never say never but I don't work with one (or with a group) at the moment. I did a big post on this last year: http://adinawest.blogspot.com/2010/11/beta-readers-not-beta-writers.html

    Basically I get my feedback from beta readers who are not writers themselves, and that works well for me - but your relationship with your CP sounds fantastic. Hang on to her!

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  16. I think the uberbuddy approach works for me.

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  17. Something similar happened to me as Sondrae above said.

    Keep a good hold of your CP, Joanna, these are people hard to come by!

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  18. I totally agree with your take on CP's. Sounds like you have a keeper!

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  19. Hi Joanna!
    A critique partner should tell you the good and the bad. But remember, it's one persons opinion. Take careful consideration of what your CP recommends, but don't follow his/her recommendations blindly. Remember, it's your story. Your vision.

    With my book two I sent my first chapter out to 2 CPs. Both had similar comments so I spent hours rewriting. When I sent the first three chapters to my editor she didn't like chapter one. She made suggestions that sounded a lot like the first version of chapter one - before I'd followed my CPs advice. I sent my editor the first version and she loved it. Go figure.

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  20. I have several CPs some of the are friends and some are strictly professional, but I do go by one rule: NO SUGAR COATING ALLOWED. When I send one of my CPs something that I have written I tell them to be as honest as they possibly can and to forget our friendship, trips to Vegas and the times I held their hair back while they well you get the drift. It is next to impossible to hurt my feelings as I have alligator skin. While I do have friends for CPs I tend to that the critiques from the professional CPs more seriously though.

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  21. I'm the same as you Joanna, the closer you are the easier it is to be honest and tongue in cheek and all that. You know what they have gone through to get the ms in the state it is in, which is a gateway for respect. It isn't always easy to leave the sugar behind, but the ms turns out all the sweeter for leaving it in the cupboard.

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  22. As for me, I love everything I write, but I know everyone has a different taste, so im always open to criticism.

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  23. It is always great having a great CP on your side! Everyday is a new opportunity to get a different perspective and learn something new! What great insight! I would love for us to follow each other!

    -Tenesa
    http://tenesatheartisan.blogspot.com/

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  24. I thank my lucky stars for my CP every day. They're an awesome group of women, and I wouldn't be anything without them.

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  25. I think I'm more like you. I have to girls I send my work to on occasion and they are very kind, yet very honest. I'm still building my confidence as a critiquer, but follow their lead. I'm on the lookout for more CPs and betas at the moment. I'm ready to join that level of the writing process fully. Christy

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  26. CP partners are very critical to getting your work read and properly put in the right order. I think my relationship falls in between the two you've mentioned. We tend to be very professional about getting our work done, but we don't have a problem getting together outside the allotted monthly/bimonthly time slot. In the end, I think you need to get along both professionally and on a friendship level with your critique group. If someone in the group can't handle either/or then perhaps they need to find a better place where they fit in.

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  27. I'm just stopping over to say hi. I haven't seen you around the blogosphere for a while.

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  28. Where did you go Jo? Hope all is well x

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  29. I'm so glad you have a great critique partner. I'm very lucky to have a few great gals in my corner who will give me the straight goods! :)

    Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse

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