The One About CPs

First things first, some gossip for you: apparently Jennifer Lawrence is the frontrunner for Katniss? I know she's not exactly as SC described, and I'm not excusing the fact that if this is true then the casting directors are completely ignoring the fact that Katniss is supposed to be olive-skinned, which is incredibly frustrating in and of itself. At the same time, I am relieved they're looking for someone who can ACT. A girl who doesn't have to resort to hair-acting and lip-biting in order to emote throughout the movie--one who embodies Katniss' spirit, even if they're failing to capture her look. She basically was Katniss in Winter's Bone:

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And she already knows how to skin a squirrel, and, really that's half the battle. I'm a tiny bit more preoccupied with who is going to be cast as Peeta, only because I think he'll be the toughest character to nail. You can't go too sweet with him, but you also can't go too mysterious-outside-loner type, either. I'm just warning you all now that if they cast Alex Pettyfer, my rage will be enough to power the stars of ten galaxies.

Anyway, anyway, over on Tumblr, Eleanor Cinders (hey girl!) asked if I could blog about the process of how I found my critique partners. Done!

When I first started writing with the intent of being published (18), I was VERY shy about showing anyone my work. Most of my writing up to that point had been done privately, but I did write a bit of Fanfiction here and there and published it on ff.net. From that experience, I learned very quickly that you really do need feedback on your work, especially if you intend to improve your craft. It's pretty damn impossible to be fully objective--to step back and truly, closely examine--something that you've written because you're close to it by virtue of the fact that what is written on that page came straight from your head. You don't pick up on gaps in logic or plot holes or inconsistencies because you tend to have everything answered in your head. And that's totally natural. Even Editors-who-write and/or are published authors struggle with this, because editing and writing involve two completely different skill sets.

While I was writing Brightly Woven, my friend Carlin (who the story was written for) was my only reader. She read and edited it in chunks as I finished them. After I completely finished the manuscript and revised, I sent it to my brother and to my friend Mike for the male take on things, but I was never really tempted to seek out others' help while working on the early drafts. It was only after I had something finished that I poked around on Verla Kay's and asked for feedback on my first chapter (thanks, guys!).

Because I'm also a very shy person by nature, I find it difficult to share something not fully drafted, nevermind something that hasn't been edited through at least once by me. Carlin was (is!) a special case, because she had gone through the highs and lows of my first book with me, and, of course, she was my close friend. I could trust her to give me sincere feedback (good and bad), to encourage me in the right way, to not make off my ideas, to show her writing that was less than stellar--because that's one of the most important qualities of ANY relationship, not just CP ones. You need to be able to fully trust your CP... but it's not like trust is built in a day. Likewise, Anna and I started out as friends before we let one another read our stuff.

Sarah is another one of my critique partners, and I think the story of how that came to be might be a little more useful to you. Way back in... 2009-ish, I believe, I briefly posted a note on my livejournal asking if anyone would be interested in working together as CPs. Sarah sent me an email, which was very exciting to me since I knew, at that time, we were both working on high fantasy projects and had similar tastes in books, boys, and movies. I really don't know her on a personal level, though, which put my stomach in knots about sending her something that was less-than-stellar.

The very first thing we did was email back and forth about what we were looking for in a CP, what kinds of projects we were working on, etc. We agreed to do a little trial run and sent each other the first 50 or 100 pages of our current projects to get a sense of each other's writing and critique style. From there, we kept sending each other chunks that got larger and larger--until, finally, we just started sending each other full manuscripts to read. :)

As a shy person, the hardest thing about looking for a CP is putting yourself out there and being able to divorce someone's critique of your work from a critique of you as a person. The nerves and angst let up with time, especially after you find the right match, but I still get very twitchy when I send manuscripts to my CPs (and I STILL have a hard time talking to people about my published stuff). I tend to think the most important part of the hunt, though, is that "interview" process. You need to be very upfront and hash out your expectations and "rules," so to speak. If it doesn't work out, it doesn't work out--there are plenty of other fish in the sea. Just make sure those fish have similar goals and are in roughly the same place you are both writing-wise and professionally. That last bit isn't the most important and many can and do disregard it, but I feel like this kind of relationship is much easier (and less prone to potential drama) if you're on a level playing field, and you're both aiming for the same things.

As for where to find potential CP matches... I have to confess, I'm a bit out of the loop on these things. Can anyone suggest a few places/resources? I'm more than happy to host a little match-making session in the comments if you want to post a little bit about yourself and what you're working on.