Monday, January 11, 2016

The Finer Points of Accepting Feedback

Receiving feedback about "your baby" can sometimes feel like a punch in the stomach, sometimes a pat on the back. Hopefully there's a little of both, because that's what is real. I spent a week incorporating dozens of changes into my full manuscript, after going through feedback on my next book.
An example of an easy fix: She shrugged her shoulders changed to She shrugged when the comment read, "What else is she going to shrug?"
A harder fix was the suggestion that I insert a new scene to allow a certain character's response to an event be known. I agreed that his opinion mattered.
Apparently I have a thing about body parts, as in that's what I mention the most to show rather than tell someone's reaction or emotions. Characters need to emote and elicit emotions within the reader, so that's not all bad. When a critiquer highlighted the multiple times I show through facial expression, particularly the eyes, I better recognize the need to vary and incorporate some new ways. Things like this don't always show up in a few pages, so it's important to get feedback at different stages of your project.
I'm still revising. Then it goes to beta readers for further feedback. How do writer's handle all these opinions? One's attitude makes a big difference.
Point #1--Recognize that finding flaws is the job of the critiquer.
You want your "extra set of eyes" to find the mistakes instead of the public, because, believe me, they're in there. Plus, those flaws often disappear as you fix them. Until experience proves otherwise, trust that a critiquer is there to help you, that her comments give you something valid to consider.
Point #2--Each reader comes with their own set of opinions and things they focus on.
Three different critique partners gave me dozens of content comments each, and very few overlapped. This is why you may not agree with everything they notice, and also why you'll want multiple readers to give feedback.
Point #3--Each writer comes with their own set of preferences.
You don't have to change everything suggested, but you should attempt to understand why the comment was made so that your decision has a purpose.

Point #4--Thank your critiquers. Even if you don't agree on much.
They spent a chunk of time on you. It takes more time and mental concentration to critique rather than read. They question everything that stops the flow of reading, at least if they're any good. Whether you paid them, exchanged manuscripts, or it was a favor, a thank you is always appreciated.

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