Being a writer means being critiqued. It's really tough to put out something you've worked hard on only to have people rip it apart. But it's very necessary.
I just got back critiques from writing partners who have torn up the entire first half of my story. If we were using paper and red ink, my pages would need tourniquets. I'm a little panicked about it. This story is due in three weeks, and I may need to re-write the whole thing.
In a nutshell, my critique partners don't like my characters. They don't see any nobility, just the flaws I've described a little too well. This morning, I put down a book with characters who have flaws very similar to mine. I closed the book because I don't care about either the hero or the heroine. If that's how my critique partners see my characters, I have a real problem.
Luckily, I have people who are willing to say, "This isn't working for me." It takes guts to criticize someone else's work. It takes skill to be able to say, "Here's why this isn't working for me and here's one idea of how to fix it." And it takes a tremendous amount of trust to be part of a group that regularly shreds each other's work and comes back for more.
Then there is a point at which I need to stop taking everyone else's advice and stick to the story. Just where that point is--well--that's a delicate balance. There are two things going on which must be taken into account. First, this is no longer an exercise. I don't have months or years to refine and re-refine. A publisher has paid me to write a story with a specific date for submission. It's called a deadline--maybe because I just might be dead by the time I cross that line. And second, even after I have done my critiques and edits, not everyone is going to love my story. I have to accept that. After publication, there will be reviews on Amazon or Goodreads that rip apart my work. The worst part is, even if I agree with them, there's nothing I can do to fix it. The story is out there for the whole world to see with my name on it.
Being a writer means both accepting critiques and shrugging them off. It's really tough to put out something you've worked hard on only to have people rip it apart. But it's very necessary.
Until next time,