Sometimes, when I browse writing and publishing blogs, I see excerpts of blog readers’ work– whether it’s a query submission or first pages, or anything else. Sometimes, the work is strong, sometimes not so much.
But sometimes, they make mistakes that make me blanch and wonder “Why didn’t their Critique Partners or beta-readers catch that?”
And sometimes, I can guess the answer to that question: They don’t have a CP or beta.
Because here is something else I see in the comments of those blogs: complaints about the difficulty of finding a CP or a beta.
First of all, to those people, I say: you are wrong.
Involve yourself in the writing community or in the community around your genre and it becomes easy. I met one of my CPs, Alex, in an online YA writing class on Litreactor. My other CP, Lindsey, is a fellow YA book blogger. I know of people who have met their beta readers through fanfiction communities or through Fictionpress.
Some blogs create posts to match people up as CPs. People have been known to find CPs through events like WriteOnCon. And if all else fails, by getting active on a forum like the Absolute Write Water Cooler, I’m sure you can find a CP. Or betas. Or BOTH.
Why am I telling you all of these ways to find betas and CPs? Because I believe that if you’re a writer, you need readers.
Personally speaking, I need to know that I have CPs waiting. While I worked on my “discovery draft” of Apparent, I was close to miserable. Every sentence felt terrible and I couldn’t have been less motivated. It took me about a year to finish it. And I was close to hating it.
I needed the encouragement of someone telling me what they LIKED. I needed to know that someone expected to see some of my work. I needed the affirmation.
But maybe you’re the type of person who is motivated enough on your own for a first draft. Maybe you’ve revised it to death on your own and you’re relatively pleased with it.
You still need a CP.
You need other eyes on your work. Maybe a sentence seems clear to you, but isn’t as clear to others. They might catch crutch phrases you didn’t realize you had.
And they’re WONDERFUL people to whine to when you have revisions to make but need help sorting out. They can often offer some direction.
Showing your work to people can be scary. But isn’t that the end goal anyway? Why not find people who will help it to its full potential?