Tuesday, April 24, 2018

A to Z - All Things Writing : Understanding what to keep and what to let go

Welcome to the Blogging A to Z Challenge, where, this month, I'll be focusing on all things writing. This may be a random jumping around of topics within my theme, but hopefully something somewhere will be useful to someone. (V is for vague - see that last sentence.) Check out all the participants here . Now, lets get on with today's letter.

U is for Understanding what to keep and what to let go

Getting all that feedback from editors, beta readers and critique partners can be overwhelming. So how do you know what to take into account and what to ignore and everything in between?

• Did more than one person point out the same issue? That's a good sign that it's not just a subjective opinion and is something you should take a deeper look at.

• Thinking of that person's comments overall, do they seem to have a good understanding of your book/characters/plot? If so, that's a good indication that this comment is something to give thought to.

• If the feedback is 90% praise, read that and enjoy it, but focus on the other 10% more. The issues they did pause to point out might be major ones.

• Does the comment feel harsh or hit hard on a sensitive issue?  You don't have to agree with it 100%, but it may be something you should let digest and work on with a clear head another day.

• Remember all feedback is subjective. It's someone's opinion. It might not be right. It might not be right for your particular story. But just because someone disagrees with an aspect of your story, doesn't mean they're wrong either. Give it some thought and time and move forward as appropriate.

• Should you make all the changes everyone suggests? Goodness no! What a frankennovel that would make. Use what your gut tells you should be used. You're the one writing your story.

• Don't be afraid to make changes, even big changes, but only when your heart is in it. It's too easy to get bogged down in trying to make everyone happy and that can suck the life out of you as a writer.

• Some people like to offer suggestions, and that can be very helpful to illustrate what they mean in the context of their comment. Use caution when adopting these suggestions word for word because they're not in your voice can stand out like a sore thumb. Try rewriting that line/section in your own words using the suggestion as a guideline instead.

Keep in mind, that through it all, you have that back up copy of your original work. You can rewrite edit your heart out because your precious words are always safe, gathering dust in a folder on your hard drive. No one can take those away from you - even though you'll probably never ever go back to them. 

How do you decide what to keep and what to let go?

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  1. It can be hard to decide what to keep and what to delete from a story.

  2. Hi Jean - understanding what's important and relevant is so important and not getting tied down with each and every miniscule thing - cheers Hilary


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