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Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Criticism: Just keep the balance

So, there’s this thought in my head and I just have to talk about it. As some of you know, I’m struggling with editing. If you’ve been there, I’m sure you know what a hell it is. And if you enjoy it … please share the secret.

Some days ago, I was reading critiques from CC and I was trying to make a plan about the changes and the parts that need to be fixed, when I remembered a message I had received from a user. 

He had sent it to me when I had submitted my first revised chapter and I’d said that I tried to fix the part that the critters had pointed out. He told me that we have to be very careful and we have to consider the points that the critters make, but do not consider that each is something that needs to be “fixed”.

That’s true. I know he is right and I’m extra careful when comes to editing. But he made me think and I decided to write down my thoughts.

CC is really helpful and I appreciate everyone who has read Dazed and most of them wrote very nice and helpful comments. And I listen to them. I read their comments carefully and I make the changes when I see that’s necessary. That’s very important. No one should change something only because someone told him. We have to decide if we want to make that change. So far I’ve made changes and I like the result. Dazed is better.

But he’s right. We need to be really really careful when it comes to criticism because it’s easy to get lost. As everything in life, we must keep the balances. The last we want is to lose ourselves or our voice. Imagine what would happen if we started changing everything that people told us. It could probably be a book, but would it be ours? It’s one thing to accept peoples’ comment, but it’s another to blindly change everything they tell you. I believe that everyone in CC want to help and they’re doing their best. But there is a fine line that each writer must keep. That’s what I call balance.

When I received my first critique, I felt like I was freefalling. It was like someone planted in my head a million new things and made me see my manuscript in a whole different way. And I needed that. I needed to see where I’m wrong, I needed to know that I should add space before and after ellipses, I needed to know where my POV is wrong, which dialogue tags need to be capitalized, when my scene need to be tightened. Through CC I’m learning more about writing and editing, and despite the amount of work, there is progress. And that’s the point.
I’ll say it again. People are trying to help, but deep down everyone has a different opinion and we must have that in mind.  We must be open-minded about criticism and we must weigh the info we receive.

I love to read my critters’ comments and see the way they think about my work. Everyone has something different to add and I like that. I’ve learned so many things from the critters and I hope my comments are helping them too. My grade on CC is good, so I believe I do help them. And that makes me happy.
I’m going to finish this post with the words from the user who sent me the message. He sums up everything that we need to know about criticism. So, keep that in mind. I know I will. :)

“YOU are the one to decide what comments/suggestions are worth reacting to and what can/should be ignored. Be open minded to critique and suggestion but do not forget that only you know where your story is going and what you want it to communicate. The story and the characters are yours. You are the final authority.”

Thanks for the kind words. Even though I had that in mind, I needed to hear it from someone too. I hope you don’t mind that I quoted your words here. 

That message was also a proof that we bloggers, writers, readers, we do care about others. Isn’t that magical?


  1. So, so true about criticism! As bad as it is to shun all critiques, it's just as crippling to blindly accept them all, too. It's important to have a strong sense of a story's core before changing it based off a critique!

    1. Yes and don't forget how hard it is to read all those suggestion about your work. But it's for the best. All we need to do is to be careful.:)

  2. Of course it's magical. This is a nice post and I needed it. I exchange chapters with a Beta reader and he says the same thing at the end of every critique. The work is yours, so you should know what suggestion to apply or ignore.

    I'm glad that CC is helping to improve your skills. Thanks for sharing this post. :)

    1. The work is ours and it's a ton of work!:) I'm sure you know how it is. It's good to have a beta reader. I haven't anyone just the critters on CC.
      I wish you the best for The Road Taken and I'm happy you liked the post.

  3. Oh, Heather above made an excellent point. I remember one of my Beta readers going to town with one of my books. She marked the heck out of it. I felt myself completely surrendering to the process of making severe revisions, but I think that was an act of self-preservation. When I caught on that I lost sight of my own work in the process, I went back to the original and started over. Everyone is going to have a vision, but I guess choosing which one works with yours is the first step. Great post. Editing requires a mindset that I find hard to escape once you're there.

    1. I can imagine how you felt. When I received my first critique I thought that I should rewrite everything but I didn't. I read it again and again but as more came I made my peace with criticism.
      I'm glad that you liked this post. :)
      It's hard to escape. You are very right. I already feel trapped.