Feedback and critiques. The soul-crushing or elevating remarks from the people you trust to tell it to you straight and help you shape your opus.
But what if one opinion feels a bit wide of the mark? If the beta misses the point or just doesn't really read the genre you write?
What if it is a little too scathing, and it makes you question yourself as a writer?
I was asked these points by a friend. As usual my over-fertile brain began thinking about opinions.
o·pin·ion /əˈpɪnyən/ Show Spelled[uh-pin-yuhn]
1.a belief or judgment that rests on grounds insufficient to produce complete certainty.
2.a personal view, attitude, or appraisal.
3.the formal expression of a professional judgment: to ask for a second Medical opinion.
4.Law. the formal statement by a judge or court of the reasoning and the principles of law used in reaching a decision of a case.
5.a judgment or estimate of a person or thing with respect to character, merit, etc.: to forfeit someone's good opinion.
6.a favorable estimate; esteem: I haven't much of an opinion of him.
Opinions are personal, we all get that. I like tomatoes, my friend doesn't. Her opinion is that they don't taste nice. I disagree. Do I change my opinion because she hates them? No, but I respect it.
It is the same with movies, books and the manuscript you have been working on for the last (insert timescale in months or years).
An opinion can shatter you to the core. Cause you endless worry and sleepless nights, even reconsider your MS. An opinion is a personal preference.
And I started to wonder about opinions. More specifically, how do we react when someones opinion differs to others?
Do we change our work to suit one person ? Or do we seek more input from beta readers and crit buddies?
Or even shelve the project?
With any feedback I try to be calm. I'm human though, so I feel sad when something I wrote hasn't done what I set out to achieve.
I like to evaluate the points. So I re-read, I think, I digest, and then decide what to do. I change something, usually, if more than one person comments on it. If I re-read it and think "Oh yeah, I missed that!" (*slaps forehead*) then I will tackle it again.
If it is something vital to the plot, maybe I didn't word it right. If that is the case then I can re-shape it.
If the day comes when my novel reaches an agent - gets me signed, and then gets published - will I read each review and rush back to my laptop? Will I change my book based on the opinion of the reviewer/reader?
Will I care that someone doesn't like a particular part or character? Scream out loud when they miss/skip an important sub-plot? Yes I'm human (and quite emotional at times. heehee). But I will have consulted the opinions open to me up to that point.
The CP and beta readers will have worked their magic. The revisions for Mr. or Ms. Agent and editor at the publishing house will be done.
My work will be done and I'd have set it free. There will be nothing more I can do.
However, I hope that -if the time comes- I will remember the definition of opinion, smile and return to writing my next novel.
And rinse and repeat the cycle yet again. :)