Wednesday, 14 April 2010

I promise I'll do better.

So you've got your MS. You revise the sucker and hand it over - shaking - to you critique partners/alpha/beta whatever reader you may have and await their feedback.

Then you get it. Some love it, some offer suggestions, some tear it into tiny shreds and leave your dignity curled into a ball, crying on the floor.

What do you do?

Don't get me wrong, I'm like constructive criticism. I welcome suggestions and ways to make my MS better. Everyone has a different opinion and yes, even if you get published, some readers will love your book and some, well you know.

I'm a big believer in gut instinct and I found this quote from author Adele Geras:

"Don't reject advice out of misplaced vanity. Sometimes others really do know best.
However, if your whole being recoils from the suggestion, don't follow it."

Recently I had some trouble with my opening chapter. Some of my readers loved it but a couple of CP's suggested it was slow and didn't start in the right place.


So, I asked some advice. I will be forever grateful to the fab Mary Lindsey who told me to get a few more opinions and if they said the same then I would know. So I did. And I've changed it and yes, it reads better now.

So what is the art of receiving feedback? I think it is to accept help and change when needed, you'll know if it is. Most of the time I agree when something is suggested that works better. And, if you don't agree? Then I shall scream this loud and proud, TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS.

If it feels wrong then don't do it. The story is your voice and you have to love it not just change it for someone else to love. And you got to love your work right? That's why we all write isn't it?

Oh yeah, and if in doubt about feedback, watch this that clip I found on the cool blog of Natalie Whipple.


JE said...

You couldn't have said it better: Trust your instincts.

I had a similiar problem with a chapter an old critique group tore to pieces. I changed the things they suggested, hated every second of it, and hated what it ended up being. Guess what? I changed it back and lots of others love it.

Excellent Advice!


Jaydee Morgan said...

Feedback can be confusing. I usually go with the law of averages. If a few people have the same problem, I know I have to fix it. If it's just one opinion, I need to weigh it against my own vision.

Lindsay said...

Justine. Glad you liked the post. I think you're right, you have to go with what you think. And the others who love it :)

Jaydee. I know what you mean. I stress about feedback big time. Love your advice too. I'm gonna remember the vision part:)

Jessica Ann Hill said...

Great post. Feedback is really important... and sometimes, really hard to take. I find that I'm like Jaydee with the law of averages. You can't please everyone, but if it's something that I hear over and over, I know I need to change something.

Angela said...

Excellent post and very true! If several readers are seeing the same problem, I suggest taking their advice. However, sometimes critiques are based more on personal taste than actual "rules of writing", and for those--use those instincts. That's what they're there for!

Roxy said...

Excellent post. Instinct is so important. Even if some advice hurts initially, if you consider it and feel that's it's right, your work makes great strides. Thanks for reminding of that.

Todd Newton said...

Generally when I'm being critiqued I look for as close to consensus as possible; if 9/10 people say X, then X probably requires serious revision. If 2/10 people say Y, I might give it a passing thought, or a brief agonized glance, and just re-word a sentence or two.

If you're being told to take something out of the MS that you're unwilling to part with, examine WHY you're so attached -- maybe the bond isn't strong enough in the plot, and that's what they're picking up on.

The bottom line, though, is always to trust your instincts. You're the writer.

Lindsay said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Samantha Bennett said...

Great post! I've gone through stages with my critique groups: make every change they suggest, don't submit anything for fear of criticism... Now I consider their critiques but ultimately do "trust my instincts." :)

AND that video is hilarious. Well, not hilarious, but funny. Not that, something like that. Maybe. Yeah? ;)

Deb Salisbury, Magic Seeker and Mantua-Maker said...

Great post! I think learning how to use feedback is as important a skill as basic grammar -- without it, your writing can't improve.

Bethany Wiggins said...

Awesome post! Trust your instincts... unless a lot of people have the same problem with your story. In that case, trust theirs!