Wednesday, February 23, 2011

My thoughts on handling feedback

There were some great responses in the comments on Monday about how you deal with critiques and feedback. I'd suggest going back and reading them if you haven't already.

As for my advice, it's pretty similar. To start, you have to know your story. What is the core of your plot? What are the character traits that are integral to your protagonist? And so on. You have to decide what is vital, so that you can know what you are willing to change (which should be a good portion of the book--this doesn't work if you decide everything you wrote is so important you can't change it). It's good to have multiple trusted CPs, so that you can look for similarities or themes in their feedback. If one person seriously can't stand a part of your book, and another loves it... that's a judgement call on your half. However, if you get multiple people telling you they really don't like something, that's when you know there's a problem that needs addressing. If you get a suggestion that is really difficult to swallow, take a day or two before you respond to it. Let it sink in, let it "simmer." Something that sounds horrible or impossible at first, might end up whipping your book into shape. You might go from thinking "I have no clue how to even fix that" to "Wait! I could do this" with a little bit of time to think it over. Also, it never hurts to try something if there is even one tiny ounce of you that wonders if it would make your manuscript better. You can always change it back.

I could say more, but again, there was already so much great advice on Monday, I think it would be too repetitive. The trick with feedback is to understand that someone is critiquing your writing, not YOU. It is not a personal attack. Someone saw enough value in your work to take the time to tell you what they think. Whether you use their suggestions or not, that is always worthy of gratitude.

If you have any more thoughts or advice about it, feel free to share!

7 comments:

WindyA said...

I think the biggest thing to remember about crits, is that it's NOT a personal attack, regardless of how it might sound. It's hard because we all pour so much of ourselves into our work, that any criticism feels like it is a critique of us. Nice post!

alexia said...

Great post! I agree, time is a good way to allow your kneejerk emotional reaction to evolve into a logical evaluation of potential edits.

Maegan Langer said...

Good advice, all. It is truly amazing what a little time can do. I've found that re-writing is actually easier than the initial writing (which sometimes feels like spinning something out of nothing). Once you've gotten something down, even if it doesn't feel spectacular, that's still something to work with. When you go back, it's suprising all the new ideas you think of how to do it differently, and better ;)

Janiel Miller said...

I appreciate this post. Time is so important. More than one reader as well. I also really believe Stephen King's advice to write your first draft with the door closed, and the second with it open. First drafts are too tenuous and influenceable to let a lot of people in before you're finished. That's how it's been for me.

Thanks to everyone for your thoughts. There was something good to consider in all of them.

Sara B. Larson said...

All these points are so true. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

Elana Johnson said...

I like the last bit of this: We should always be thankful for someone who reads our stuff and tells us what they think. Even if we don't agree.

For me, I've gotten feedback from people that is potentially devastating. Some of it I ignore. Some I actually consider. It's the considering that we have to do. Sometimes that leads us to places we would've never thought about on our own.

nutschell said...

Very good tips here, and a great reminder for writers who think they are their work. I think it also helps to remind those critiquing that what they're doing is not exactly pointing out flaws in the writer's ability, but suggesting things to improve the writer's work.