Books, Editing, Literary, Writing

Edit Your Heart Out

As someone who works hand-in-hand with writers on an almost daily basis, I sometimes have a hard time dealing with criticism of my own work. I don’t mean that in the way that might imply that I take offense at comments or suggestions but, that I am sometimes unsure as to how to apply the commentary to my work.

Take this experience as an example. While reading one of my short stories, two beta readers remarked that the story was good but that they just couldn’t identify with the heroine. They noted that they found her lack of the extreme emotion during a difficult part of the story to be unrealistic and even jarring. The usual fix for this sort of problem is focus on your character and try to relay their body posture, facial expressions, ect. The problem, though, was that the story was highly personal and the character in question reacted in a similar manner that I had at the time. In public, I am an extremely guarded person and I keep my emotions close to the vest. Despite the story being a fictional, I did by best to follow the old adage “write what you know”. I took the criticism and wrote a second version, this time shifting focus the character’s emotional upheaval in a private moment following her personal tragedy. Both versions were well received but my female readers, in particular, identified much more strongly with the second version.

Every writer, no matter their background or experience, needs feedback. Feedback is vital to the longevity of your work and even the most brutal commentary can be a force for change. The trick is to learning how to accept comments and glean valuable advice.

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