Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Who's a good CP???

I’ve been going through detailed edits with my CP for the last couple weeks. It’s been brutal. No, really…it has. Critiquing someone’s work can be tough, not everyone can do it. Well, not without some training. No, you don’t have to go to school or take a class. But there are some things that you can learn before you start the process to make the experience less painful for you and your CP.

What are those things?

  • You need to know the characteristics of a good CP
  • You need to have good CP etiquette
  • You must be knowledgeable
  • You must be thorough
Okay, if you looked at this list and said, “Where the !@&!!@ she get that?” you’re not alone. I just made it up. But wait, before you click unlike or the little “x” at the top of the page, hear me out. If you or your CP don’t have all/some part of the elements above then you’ll be in for a bumpy ride.

I’ll break down each of the elements that make a great CP. But not all today. In this post, I’ll discuss the characteristics of a good CP.

There are certain traits a CP must have that set that person apart from others – for you and your writing. What are they?

  • Loyalty – a good CP will not toss your story to the side because someone else comes along and asks if they’ll look at their stuff. Not saying your CP couldn’t have another CP- they can. But they shouldn’t dump you in the middle of edits for weeks to work on someone else’s work. Unless, there’s extenuating circumstances and it’s agreed by the both of you.
  • Likability – if you can’t stand your CP your not gonna do a good job at edits. It’s like having a job you hate. Somewhere down the line your gonna skip something, thinking – oh, well, they’ll figure it out later. It’s all a matter of time. So do you have to be in love with your CP? Of course not. But there should be some kind of camaraderie. Finally, they must like your story. If they hate every detail of your piece, why are they trying to improve it for you? It’s like burning a cake but going through and putting the frosting on it and decorating it all pretty. Why would anyone do that? So if your CP, for instance, hates science fiction, and you write science fiction, I don’t think you’ll mesh well. My advice, if you wouldn’t read it – why critique it.
  • Thoughtfulness – a good CP points out the good in their CP’s piece and the bad. If you and your CP have been working together for some time and you feel you’ve grown – your CP’s work should reflect that too. What am I saying? Share. Play fare. Don’t hold onto new knowledge. Share that info with your CP to help better their work too. If you hear about a contest that your CP could enter, tell them. Let them enter and root for each other. If you found an article/blog post… that you absolutely love and has helped you tremendously, fork over the info.
  • Commonality – you should have something in common with your CP. Okay, you say, why do I have to have something in common with that person? Good question. It has been my experience that people who have zero in common don’t work as well together. True Life Example: My last CP (note: she’s not my CP anymore), and I had zero in common. I thought, that’s fine. She wrote Christian fiction, I write YA. Her children were grown; my children are school age. I could go on but I think you get the picture. We worked on one project together, after that I never heard from her again. No, we didn’t have a fight. We never argued over edits, we got along…well, well. We exchanged our work at a nice pace and kept our edits and emails strictly to the point. I don’t know anything about her except she is a talented Christian author and when her book is published, I’ll definitely get a copy (I’ll have to go out and buy it myself, though). I harbor no ill will toward her but our time together was some of the most boring I’ve ever had. Once the last email was sent, I never heard from her again. I emailed later to ponder about her progress – she didn’t reply. That was okay, I’m a tough cookie. My current CP and are have tons in common. We are both super goofy moms who write YA and our emails sometimes have one line – usually something super silly. And when she’s published, I’ll probably cry. Tears of happiness, of course. I’m sure she’ll do the same for me.
There are more traits I could’ve listed but this get’s us going. You get it. Right? You don’t have to be in love with your CP but you must be able to work with them. And preferably not on one project. If you work together on multiple projects just think of how much more that person can add to your revisions. They’ll have an inside track already to how you work and write. It’s crazy to stop at one project. Of course, this is all my experience – thus, my opinion.

What do you think? Can you list other qualities/traits a CP must have? Do you not agree with a trait I listed?

Have a great day. Read a book and laugh!!!


  1. All great points. I've lost a couple of good CPs to them getting waaayyy tooo busy. That's a hazard of the biz. I do have an excellent writing group that reads chapters. But I've started to hire really good freelance editors to read the entire mss.

  2. Great list, Dawn. I totally agree that CPs have to be willing to share the bad things, but respectfully. Another important thing to remember is that you are trying to make each other better writers. That has to be the common goal.

  3. Beautiful Blog.



  4. Hey, Catherine. I've never tried a crit group before. I might in the future- not sure yet.

    Hi, Kelly. I totally agree. Respect is a key to success as is the understanding of the common goal. Thanks for the tips!

    Hi,Elizabeth. Thanks for the following. I really appreciate it -I'm a little scarce in the following area.

  5. I'm part of a critique group, and I really love having that relationship. I agree with all the comments above. Critique Partners NEED to be a good match, kind and tactful, but HONEST.

    Very thoughtful post. I loved it. :)

  6. Thanks, Cat. My critique partner is great and she understand me which is even better. And yes, honesty is very important.

  7. Those are great points. There has to be a good match of styles between CPs, with all those things in mind.


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