Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Why critique partners rock

I will never be able to say enough about how much critique partners rock. You can never have too many, though some would invoke the "too many cooks" adage. I'd agree with that if they're the wrong cooks. But I'm a firm believer in "the more opinions, the merrier." Of course, you have to be able to focus on what works for you and what doesn't. Helps when your CPs are on board with that. :)

That said, I've been lucky enough to snag the perfect critique partners. Not only does my group, which meets face to face somewhat regularly about once a month, help me tremendously, but I have some online critiquers as well. Here's an example of how my online critiquers helped me strengthen the start of my WIP (called True Calling, the third in an upcoming paranormal trilogy from Berkley Sensation). Mind you, they kind of contradicted each other about the opening lines, but I managed to combine their suggestions for a stronger start. The changes are subtle, but I think they make a difference in both the emotion and the action.

BEFORE:
Zoe was dead.
Dead.
Samantha Trudeau battled back the wave of grief and forced herself forward, one foot after the other. Don’t think, don’t think.
But she couldn’t help but think.
Zoe was dead. Her closest friend.
And Sam would be dead, too, if she didn’t focus.
Blinking cold rain from her eyes, she squinted into the growing dusk, trying to get oriented. The cabin was around here somewhere. She was sure of it.
Unless she’d become so disoriented that she’d gotten herself lost.
No. She wasn’t lost. She knew where she was going.
Just like you knew where you were going when you ran away from home ten years ago?
She closed her eyes, gritted her teeth against the throb of pain in her shoulder.  
Focus, damn it. It’s what you’re good at. What you’re trained to do.
Soldier on. Accomplish the mission. Get to the cabin. Hunker down. Hide. Get warm. God, she couldn’t wait to get warm.
Opening her eyes, she blinked away the rain running in rivulets over her forehead and into her eyes. She couldn’t see a damn thing. Just towering trees decorated in gold and red and orange. The same red and gold and orange squished under the soles of her Nikes, her feet cold and wet, like the rest of her. At least she still shivered, the body’s way of creating its own warmth. But, crap, she’d been shivering for so long and so hard that she should have generated enough heat to warm a small house. If she didn’t find the damn cabin soon, she was toast. And not the warm, golden brown kind.
Hell, she was probably toast anyway. No way were they going to let her go. They’d hunt her down like an animal. Shoot her down like they’d shot down Zoe—
Don’t go there. Don’t go there.
Then she saw it. The Trudeau family cabin. Materializing out of a copse of gold and orange trees. An honest-to-God log cabin.

AFTER:
Zoe was dead.
Dead.
Samantha Trudeau closed her eyes and gritted her teeth against the throb of pain in her shoulder.  
Focus, damn it. It’s what you’re good at. What you’re trained to do.
Soldier on. Accomplish the mission. Get to the cabin. Hunker down. Hide. Get warm. God, she couldn’t wait to get warm.
Blinking cold rain from her eyes, she squinted into the growing dusk, trying to get oriented. The cabin was around here somewhere. She was sure of it.
Unless she’d gotten herself lost.
No. She wasn’t lost. She knew where she was going.
Just like you knew where you were going when you ran away from home ten years ago?
Don’t think. Focus.
She peered through the rain running in rivulets over her forehead and into her eyes. She couldn’t see a damn thing. Just towering trees decorated in gold and orange and red. The same coppery red that spattered her Nikes and the leaves squishing underfoot. Her feet were cold and wet, just like the rest of her. At least she still shivered, the body’s way of creating its own warmth. But, crap, she’d been shivering for so long and so hard that she should have generated enough heat to warm a small house. If she didn’t find the cabin soon, she was toast. And not the warm, golden brown kind.
Hell, she was probably toast anyway. No way were they going to let her go. They’d hunt her down like an animal. Shoot her down like they’d shot down Zoe—
She battled back the wave of grief that tried to steal her breath and forced herself forward, one foot after the other. 
Don’t think, don’t think.
But she couldn’t help but think.
Zoe was dead. Her closest friend.
Don’t go there. Don’t go there.
Then she saw it. The Trudeau family cabin. Materializing out of a copse of gold and orange trees. An honest-to-God log cabin.

Thanks, CPs!!! :)

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