Monday, January 19, 2015

My Favorite Writing Advice

Red And Blue Pencils

ID: 180553
My critique group dished it out hard last week. Two major things received negative feedback: First, I introduced a new viewpoint--that of my main character's son. It was a small scene, and a small amount of multiple viewpoints had occurred, though not recently. I wanted readers to get used to Samuel's voice once in a while, because he would later be in places his mother couldn't go. I imagined some good internal dialogue in getting Samuel to transition into a warrior. It's usually best to show a scene from the character who has the most to lose. So, basically I was convinced it was a good move.

Their reaction took me by surprise. "No, this is Karlinah's story. It doesn't feel right," they said. At first I thought that they didn't connect with the scene because of choppy interruptions in our submissions. If they could adjust to it, they would see the wonderful ending I have planned in connection to the multiple viewpoints. (Note to self: A reader won't get to the end if the middle turns her off.) 

The second thing I did wrong was to "skip over the good parts so I can get to the good parts". This is a standard joke we have whenever someone rushes through an event that readers want to see in more detail, just so the writer can get to another good part they want to focus on. It happens most when I am skipping a chunk of time so that the book doesn't get overly long. 

When the feedback I get isn't as I'd hoped, I find it best to toughen up and listen. Why? 

  • I've learned that most of the time they are right. I've seen them improve my manuscript in big or little ways every single week. If you trust your critiquers, don't suddenly change that. 
  • If it's an early draft, expect lots of changes. It goes with the territory, no matter how seasoned the writer.
  • Ignore those instant defensive reactions and give the suggested corrections a little time to percolate. Time helps take emotion out of the equation.
  • If having a wonderful book takes top priority over your feelings, you will come to the best conclusions for your book.
My favorite writing advice for all stages of the writing process is to grow a thick skin (be tough) and keep writing! You can do it!

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