Wednesday, June 20, 2012

It Takes A Village to Kill Your Darlings

Greetings, gentle readers! Melissa Landers here, and I’m loving this week’s topic of critique partners, because I’ve got the two best CPs in the world. (Not that I’m biased, or anything.) In fact, the three of us make up half the blogging team at Honestly YA: Six Authors, One Love.

From left to right: Carey Corp, Melissa Landers, Lorie Langdon.

I met Carey Corp and Lorie Langdon at an OVRWA meeting nearly two years ago. (By the way, this is one of the reasons I advise writers to join professional groups that meet locally. There’s no substitute for the in-person contacts you’ll make.) I’d heard great things about Carey and Lorie’s co-authored project—a YA reimagining of the legend of Brigadoon—so I introduced myself and begged them to tell me more.

A couple weeks later, we agreed to a manuscript swap—Doon for Alienated—and during the process, we discovered three things:

1. We enjoyed each other’s writing.
2. We enjoyed each other’s company.
3. We worked well together.

And so our critique partnership was born! Lorie and I usually exchange work on a chapter-by-chapter basis, where Carey tends to read the entire manuscript once I’m done. They both have a great eye for detail, and each will spot different issues. They each have VERY different personalities, and I have to give them mad props for being able to co-write.

Lorie’s a gentle soul. If she discovers a rough spot in my chapter, she’ll point it out as delicately as possible, making sure to infuse plenty of praise and smiley faces throughout the pages.

Carey…well, she’s a little more blunt.

I’ll show you what I mean…

Last year I sent them both the opening chapter of my second adult romance. Though I couldn’t see it at the time, my main character was too bitter. (Hey, this is why we need crit partners!) Anyway, note the difference in Lorie and Carey’s reactions:

Lorie sent an email to say, “Bobbi could use a little softening to make her more sympathetic.”

Whereas Carey called me on the phone and proclaimed, “I hate your main character. She’s a bitch, and I don’t want to be in her head.” (LOL!) Then we spent the next half hour brainstorming ways to make Bobbi more likable.

Because of our differences, we complement each other nicely, and I’m so grateful to have these ladies in my life. They’re more than beta readers—they’re advisors, cheerleaders, armchair psychologists, task masters, and friends.

Hooray for awesome crit partners!

Now it’s your turn! Tell me about your CPs or beta readers!

Melissa Landers is the author of ALIENATED, a seriously foreign exchange, coming in 2013 from Disney Hyperion. You can learn more about Melissa on her website, and she’d love for you to add ALIENATED to your Goodreads shelf! Additionally, Melissa writes contemporary romance for adults under the name Macy Beckett.


  1. Mel,

    I don't know what to say except you nailed me. LOL! And the feeling is mutual. I have the best CPs ever!

  2. Sounds like awesome teamwork. Hurray for crit partners indeed! :)

  3. @Carey: Love 'ya back!

    @Jen: Absolutely! What would we do without our CPs?

  4. Awww...Mel you're the best! I don't know what I would do without you. :o)
    And your assessment of Carey and I's styles totally made me laugh out loud!! The three of us balance each other out perfectly. I'd still be using comma's like lawn darts if it wasn't for you! (Okay, sometimes I still do ;)

  5. Haha, commas like lawn darts! Nice one! :)

  6. Having great Crit Partners is invaluable!! I adored your "Ode" to yours, Melissa.

  7. I love this! I've had a lot of CPs over the years, all of them wonderful. (Carey included!) But my long-time CPs are the fabulous Rosie Murphy (aka Gabriella Edwards) and Keri Stevens. They rock!

  8. Hilarious!!! I have a very detail-oriented CP and a broad-stroke CP. (Hmm. That was unintentionally dirty - have you noticed around romance writers EVERYTHING is a double entendre?) I appreciate both styles b/c while one is charging me a dollar for every cliche/pun I use (her notes literally say - DING! $1!), the other is pointing out the stellar way I end/begin chapters and reminding me that "lime green" is not an attractive tie color. :)

  9. Thanks, Jennifer! :)

    Becke, I can only imagine the fun you're having with that trio!

    Jessica, I'm LOL'ing at the "DING! $1". I have to watch out for cliches too, so I'd rack up quite a tab.

  10. Melissa, you're so lucky! Hope you continue to have many years and thousands of books working with your critique partners. :) Cheers, Risa

  11. I *am* a lucky lady, Risa. I'm 90% sure I wouldn't have made it to the query stage without the support of Lorie, Carey, and the other ladies at my local RWA chapter.

  12. I have two that I trust for their brutal honesty. Both are not local. I am blessed. :)

  13. Yay for awesome CPs! I really would have never finished my novel without them.

  14. LOL, Liz. Are you blessed because they're not local, or because they're honest?

    Jess, your crit of my first 2 Alienated chapters was SO helpful! You've got a great eye!