CP’s make the publishing world go round. But there’s so much more to being a CP than reading and editing.
You regularly need to challenge your assumptions and research. And when the book you’re CPing is about a topic you aren’t proficient it, it means really questioning what you read and your thoughts about what you read.
Here are some examples.
I was recently involved in a discussion about how OCD people present based on the MC of a book. A lot of people assume that OCD presents like the Rich Texan from the Simpsons where there’s a need to undertake ritual number counting. As a person who has OCD anxiety, I can tell you there’s no counting in my rituals. But based on stereotypes in the media, I can see how someone not close to someone with the condition would not recognise the invasive thoughts as an OCD symptom. Other things, like obsession with germs and cleanliness is often present. But if anyone came to my house they could see I am anything but germaphobic. So the vision that you have of a character, whether it’s based on a condition, their nationality or another characteristic, may not be the reality and the best thing to do before commenting is to make sure you understand what you are commenting about.
Old Wives Tales
If something is said enough it’s true. Don’t swim immediately after eating. False Cracking your knuckles causes arthritis. False. Eating spicy foods gives you ulcers. False. The reality is something doesn’t have to be an old wives tale to gain momentum. If something is said often enough it’s deemed to be true and you’re job as a CP is to check and make sure your comment is accurate. This is really hard to exemplify, so I thought I’d try an experiment. Read this article and list the ones you were misinformed about. (mine are #1, #2, #5, #8, #9, #10, #12, #13, #15, #25 – I am so disappointed!, #31 & #32 – SIMPSONS you lied to me)
Author insertion is common for writers, especially early in their careers. Just because you might not react that way, doesn’t mean that another person wouldn’t. A character’s reaction to a traumatic condition is especially true of this. I strongly recommend writers and CPs research the Myers Briggs personality types to see how many different personality types there are and how people react differently in different situations and under stress.
Everyone experiences things differently
This is a bit similar to stereotypes and author insertion. But the best example I can use is pregnancy. I was told the average length of a woman’s first pregnancy is 24 hours. Mine was 4.5 hours. He wanted out, and he wanted out fast. But even between my two pregnancies my morning sickness was different, my cravings were different. Don’t ever expect because you know it happened to someone else a certain way that it’s the same for everyone. Another example is my son’s epilepsy. There are more than 40 types of epilepsy. My son has complex partial epilepsy. It took us months to realise that’s what his seizures were because people see epilepsy as people falling down and thrashing around (grand mals). Even people who have the same type of epilepsy as my son have different seizures to him. They will have similar traits, but don’t look the same. And when my son did have a grand mal, it was nothing like any grand mal I had ever seen before.
Things change. This is true. And something that especially needs to be taken into account if you’re CPing a historical set story. Pink is known as a colour for girls. Well, even that is changing with more guys wearing pink. However, you’re more likely to associate pink with girls in modern society. Pink for girls was something that came into being after World War II. I remember listening to a historically based audio book from one of my favourite authors and cringing at the comment that pink was a little girl’s colour as in the 1700s that wasn’t the case. Language is another thing you need to know your stuff on, whether it’s a modern character using outdated language or a historically based character using words that weren’t actually around for another 100 years or so.
I hope I haven’t scared anyone off CPing with all this! Cping is a very rewarding part of publishing – just remember to check before you comment.
Sharon is a writer from Sunny Queensland with too many furbabies and shoes.