Writing in a Community: CPs & Betas
Writing is a very solitary job. You sit alone at a computer, with your notebooks, at a typewriter, however you choose to put down words and you write. Alone. Many people don't bounce their ideas off of others, they just jot their stories down as they come, or they outline them thoroughly and then follow their plan without consulting a single other person.
Writing is lonely.
Writing shouldn't be lonely.
There comes a point, after you've finished writing that first draft. After you've edited it. Where you need a person, or a group of people, with common interests to help. To read your work. To tell you where your plot is thin, where your characterization is weak, where your description could use more grounding, where your themes fall short.
These people are Critique Partners or Beta Readers.
A Critique Partner, or CP, is someone who you share work with, trade. You read and critique theirs and they read and critique yours. You are partners. You end up having a relationship and frequently become friendly if the relationship works out well. This is ideal, and having good CPs is a boon in any writer's life.
A Beta Reader is someone who reads your book and gives a critique and there is no reciprocal action. Beta Readers generally aren't long-term partnerships, but they can provide helpful feedback without the pressure of having to critique another person's work.
Growing a circle of people that Beta and CP is important. Self-editing isn't always reliable, and the extra eyes on a manuscript can mean the difference between putting out a quality piece of work and not. This circle of people can become integral in creating the basis of a writer's support system. They're who you'll chat with when you get down about querying, about rejections, and when you get excited about requests. They'll understand when you can't work out a plot point and talk you through writer's block.
They become a workshop.
Eventually, you'll go to them for advice on pitches, queries, synopses. Everything that a writer needs in their arsenal. And they'll come to you. You'll create a community. You'll be a part of something bigger than just your manuscript.
That community is important.
Writing is lonely. And it shouldn't be.