Tuesday, February 21, 2023

The Key to Being a Better CP

 This Week's Topic: Tips for being a better Beta Reader / CP

Hahaha. OMG. {hangs head in shame}. Lo, I raise my face to the heavens and confess my sins. When I started being a CP I hadn't learned the most important thing about constructive critique:

 Tell 'Em What IS Working and Why. 

As a CP, I'm a stronger developmental reviewer (which is an Alpha Reader/CP thing) than I am a line or copy reviewer. My analytical brain overreacts to Where's the Plot Ball, That Shit Makes No Sense, and Failure to Meet Genre Minimum Expectations, so I bleed Add Comments all over the doc. As an author, receiving dev edits is usually the greatest cause of bourbon binging because fixing developmental issues usually means rewriting whole chapters and/or morphing plot threads throughout multiple arcs. You can bet the author is desperate for at least one (if not a dozen or three dozen) callouts for something that is working well. Big or small. 

As a CP or Alpha Reader, the last thing you want is for the author to change something that moves you or crystallizes a character conflict or plot challenge, etc. Alas, sometimes, to fix the larger issue that Really Awesome Scene has to go. Thus, it's important to say why that moment works for you. If you can articulate what moved you, then the author can either salvage or make a point of hitting that same note in a different way or at a different point. It's not uncommon for one of my comments to be "love this section and these (specific) lines that show them laying bare their heart but it kills pacing; could work better if moved to ChX after the blahblah conflict."

Line edits and copy edits carry less sting, but still need to be balanced by positive comments. Is there a line that made you literally LOL? Add that LOL as a comment. A scene move you to tears? Tell 'em! Dating a new book boyfriend now? Yessss. Say so! Those smexy times get you hot and bothered too? There's no shame in tagging it as hot, hot, hot. Catch an Easter Egg? Teehee. Give 'em props. 

It's too easy to think that as reviewers we only provide value by pointing out what's wrong, when, in truth, highlighting the really good stuff is just as important. 

To my early CPs, I apologize--profusely--for being an asshole. 

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