If you’ve been writing for any length of time, and if you’ve let anyone other than your mom read your stuff, you’ve probably run into a little criticism.
When I finished my NaNo novel with a dramatic yelp of joy, I knew it was headed straight for publication. No roadblocks. Just sheer, unquestioning acceptance by publishers.
Because I was a writer. I’d harnessed my creativity, pouring it into a masterpiece with few, if any, grammatical errors. And goodness knows, I had no spelling errors.
Turns out, it wasn’t that easy.
Turns out, word count was tres important. Also, genre and audience. Also, unfortunately, REVISIONS.
If you’re just starting out, you may know beyond a shadow of doubt that your writing is stellar. But in this day and age, your writing will probably also need to be edited. Or, at the very least, critiqued by outside readers in your genre.
Even though I’d read my whole novel aloud, editing as I went, the crit partners found little gaps and problems with things I’d skimmed over.
And then, when my query was getting bites, but my first 55 pages were getting rejected, I hired an editor. I could only afford one for the first 55 pages. But she was worth every cent. Editors know what’s going on in publishing circles. Trends in writing, if you will. They know what agents are looking for.
And they aren’t afraid to tell you what you’re doing wrong.
Somewhere along the way, I learned to accept and sort criticisms. Agents gave me feedback. Crit partners gave me feedback.
My husband, by the way, only gave feedback on the plot. Because he never read it. This was intentional on my part, since once before, on a book started long, long, ago, he’d torpedoed my ideas and the book sunk into oblivion. Turns out, I value his opinion WAY too much, so I’ve learned to write the book, get it published, and THEN accept his comments (which will probably be good, by that point in my polishing process).
So, what’s the take-away from this?
AS A WRITER, YOU’LL HAVE TO TAKE CRITIQUES. BUT NOT EVERY CRITICISM IS RIGHT FOR YOUR BOOK.
There was a great post over at Steve Laube about handling crits here: http://stevelaube.com/the-unhelpful-rejection-letter/
DISCERNMENT is something you’ll need to develop when it comes to critiques.
Agents will give you feedback. Editors or publishers will give you feedback. Crit. partners will give you feedback. You pick and choose what you can successfully integrate into YOUR book, without destroying the overall vibe/picture/message of it.
Because, in the end, you want a book you can stand behind, knowing it’s your very best work. Editors and crit partners will help you take it to that level.
But writing is a bit instinctual. You know what major revamp will work for the story, and what will wreck the story. So know where to draw that line.
****What about you? Have you ever followed critiques and revamped your writing, only to scream in despair at the sorry remnants that were left? Or have you been edited/critiqued, and found your story had reached levels you hadn’t even dreamed of?****