Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Editing Epiphany

DOH!  Totally forgot the Insecure Writer's bit, but I think this fits, so we'll go with it... just realize how inadequate I feel BETWEEN the feedback and the solution... teehee


And thank you Marian for pointing out I could BLOG about this, as I worked two extra hours last night (grant season—that happens) and was brain dead for a topic, so I needed it badly!



Novel Feedback

So I've talked a little about this love/hate process... for me it is a 'hate it' initially, and then I feel pushed and poked and prodded to finally up my game and I am much happier with the product than I initially was, difficult as a first glance at the feedback would have found that to believe. I've learned to bite my tongue at first sight... I respond, “I will have to see what I can come up with”... and then trust the process.


So my first feedback round with Amy wasn't too painful.

Okay, that's a lie. It was definitely painful. But my acceptance of it wasn't that slow in coming. It just took a while to execute because it was pretty all-encompassing.

This round though, I felt more resistance... is she SURE? But... but... but...

One of them was a racial change of a character... avoiding a stereotype... and I GET it, but... you know... I LIKED it... but I see it, and came up with what I feel is a satisfactory alternative (and it allowed me to write a ginger into a primary roll... you know how I love my gingers...) and so I eliminated stereotypes on a couple levels where that character was concerned...


merely cryptically representative of my folly
But the OTHER biggie is an ending that is TOO MUCH... I've thrown too many things in the pot and it is just a little overwhelming... I've been ignoring that part... (or in denial?) I've conceded to dropping most details about a trial... but that was as far as I got until yesterday morning...

I was walking and editing (those of you new around here may not know I do that, but I do... I walk to and from work. Normally I read while I walk, but if I am editing, I read with a pen in hand and mark my changes... yes, still walking). The locals all know I'm eccentric. I couldn't tell you who, as I am looking at my pages, but occasionally they tell ME they know who I am.

Anyway... so I was walking and editing and something HIT ME... there is a time a teacher doesn't respond as much as it seems he should.... and there is a bunch of business he is UP TO that is distracting... but because I HAVE that 1) there is too much going on and 2) we can SEE he really should have noticed the other anyway....

But see, if I give a degree of separation between my MC (Helen, the ghost) and Allan, then HE can be busy and distracted and we only get what we need from it, and (catch this) he is busy elsewhere so the reader isn't tempted into calculating whether he realistically should have paid more attention... I mean LOOK at all he was dealing with! (though only in peeks)

It's funny how sometimes the solution is to take away information and leave more to the reader imagination.

But you know what I REALLY love? How ONE change can solve TWO problems. It may not merit an editgasm, but it is certainly worth a happy dance.

So how do you respond to major feedback?  Do you love it? Hate it?  Both?

28 comments:

Trisha said...

I haven't actually had any major feedback yet. I mean, I guess it could be considered major that a lot of people told me to cut most of the 'front' of my novel - about 7k of words - and I wound up doing it. And my novel has changed a LOT throughout all its revisions. But I haven't had anyone read the full manuscript yet & give me 'overall' feedback...but my time will come!

Matthew MacNish said...

I'm always pretty good at accepting feedback for what it is, and only following the advice that resonates with my vision for the story. The hard part for me is actually hunkering down and getting it done. Because sometimes it's SO much work, and I'm damn lazy.

Liz said...

I now have a wide spectrum of CPs, from folks who normally wouldn't touch "erotic romance" with THAT guys'...um...you know and hard core, best selling authors of same. I still can't manage to "parcel out" bits and pieces--need feed back on the Whole Story usually. but it's still hard at times to accept that perhaps, just maybe, you went in the wrong direction for the story, or made the heroine a tad TSTL...my favorite though comes directly from the horse's mouth of my Big Time Editor who at one point during the Tap Room Edit-Palooza yelled via skype: YOU ARE BETTER THAN THIS PARAGRAPH. Sigh. Great Post Hart, as usual!

VR Barkowski said...

I revel in all feedback, major or minor, as long as it's from someone who understands the story I'm trying to tell. I'm a people pleaser and tend to heed all critiques, regardless of source. The result? My psychological thriller suddenly veers toward women's fiction; my literary mystery is pummeled into a formulaic procedural. Not good.

It's important to be open to critiques, but as my CP recently said to me, "Never take advice from someone who has never been where you want to go."

Old Kitty said...

Yay for a most NAKED response to your feedback!! I think good feedback should always make the person being given the feedback lots and lots of positive and constructive food for thought! Take care
x

Alisia said...

Major feedback can be good and bad. Sometimes CPs will think they can tell your story better than you can. For example, I was mulling over an idea I had for a new novel and talking to her on the phone about it. She gives great advice, but she just started telling the story for me. "You should do this, and this." Really off base, and then she said this,
"See, I am great for ideas. I can give you all the ideas, tell you the story and then you write it."
It was like nails down a chalk board, and a really negative experience for me. We talked about it, or rather I set her straight.
But, I think major feedback from agents/editors/publishers is all part of the deal. I may love it because it would tell me I'm getting somewhere. Congrats on that!

Southpaw said...

I haven't had major feedback yet, but I can sympathized with the too much/not enough information game. It is such a delicate balance.

Terry Odell said...

I've been with my CPs for years, and we have this basic trust. Yesterday I was the one giving that 'major feedback' because I thought a scene wasn't pulling its weight in one of my CPs submissions.

I'm also judging 3 manuscripts for a contest, and here, I have to hold back; no point in shattering someone's dreams, although so far, the two entries I've skimmed are well written enough so I have plenty of positives to accompany my "constructive" feedback.

Terry
Terry's Place
Romance with a Twist--of Mystery

Hart Johnson said...

Trisha-you'll get there... and taking off the front 7K is BIG! But yeah, when you hear it form several, you need to heed...

Matt-yeah, i've been working at a snail's pace--I think because of other stuff, but this was also standing as a mental block, so hopefully I'm good now...

Liz-I had to look up TSTL--thankfully I've never hit that--I probably err the other way and make characters too smart because the stupid ones make me NUTS. YAY for big editor feedback though--that's excellent!

VR *snort* Yeah, feedback that changes genre is bad... I try to keep that in mind--people asking for more description, for instance... I gotta ask 'will it help solve the mystery?'

Jenny--hopefully headed for Naked, anyway!

Alisia-yeah, those can be difficult. I really strongly prefer comments saying 'I don't get this' or 'expand this' instead of someone trying to put the actual words there for me. Too much would make me nuts, too. (though honestly, I have to temper myself a little there GIVING feedback--I so often see 'perfect fixes' but it's MY perfect fix)

Holly-for me it sort of depends on the round--BIG stuff is great early, but I get less and less happy about it the farther I dive in.

Terry-that's great to have a long term relationship like that.

Michael Offutt said...

I don't like major feedback after I think I'm finished. When I solicit for feedback on something is when I want it. I hate people that come along after something is finished and want to offer their opinions. My response is, "You should have offered those when the glue wasn't set. Now I could care less."

SP Sipal said...

Congrats, Hart, on your editgasm! :-) Love it when you can kill to birds with one stone.

What's always amazing to me with edits is how sometimes the simplest of tweaks can make the biggest differences, especially cumulative!

Cold As Heaven said...

Gingers are cute. I have one in a main role in my crime novel >:)

Cold As Heaven

RaShelle Workman said...

Hey Hart - Yaya for feedback, she says as she cringes in a corner rocking back and forth. LOL

Hart Johnson said...

Michael-possibly (in fact probably) among regular readers i'd have a similar reaction, but agents and editors all get higher standing on this front, being the pros and all...

Susan-that's true--some of those little ones make a HUGE difference!

CaH-They're great, aren't they?!

RaShelle-Awww, princess, don't be afraid!

Deb and Barbara said...

So funny, Hart, I know you write more about writing than we do, but this is exactly what we're talking about today. Feedback and then going overboard (or not overboard enough). It's a dance, isn't it? And a good one to do on the move as you do.
Good luck!!!! B

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I like it because they see things I don't, but even better, my critique partners suggest better ways to make things work.
Guess I'm just really open to feedback.

Nate Wilson said...

I'm with Matt on this one. Okay I'm not actually near him, on account of the restraining order and everything, but I'm in complete agreement with him: I receive feedback well, only use what resonates with the story, and I'm damn lazy.

But I do love when one change solves two problems. Best of luck with your edits!

Beverly Diehl said...

When you had written about editing while walking, and then wrote this "so I was walking and editing and something HIT ME..." I was ready for a tree branch, lol!

Obviously, you are way more coordinated - or have less trees - than I do.

Yes, hating feedback, and then, later, when the dust settles, when I have taken pen in hand and made changes, when I have updated and printed new pages... love love love all the way, baby. Tighter, cleaner, better - I just need to get past the first squirmy miserable phase.

M Pax said...

It's definitely a love-hate thing. In the end, it makes me better so I end up loving it.

Glad you figured out a solution. yea!

Green Monkey said...

I can't get over how efficient you are - walking and editing or walking and reading (I'm new here). I don't respond well to feedback of any kind this is one of my problems.

Lola X said...

Such a great post! Love visiting your blog!

Lola x
http://lola-x.blogspot.com

Hart Johnson said...

Barbara-I need to get over there! A very tricky dance, you're right!

Alex-that's a really good way to be--I'm sure it helps.

Nate *snort* You must be a REAL nut to have Matt take out a restraining order.. he's pretty tolerant. teehee

Beverly, oh, the trees have hit... usually after a rain because they hang low, so I end up soaked (as does my WiP)--have I mentioned I'm a slow learner?

MPax-so NICE when you reach love!

Green Monkey, welcome! Hey, you're wearing a pink cowboy hat--are you sure you aren't a clone of my friend Stacy? But seriously, WELCOME! And yeah... I can multi-task if one of them requires VERY LITTLE brain-wise...

Laura M. Campbell said...

When I first started submitting my work in my writers group, I wanted to die! One rule while receiving feedback, the writer is metaphorically dead. You can't talk, respond until everyone has spoken. Then you're revived and can respond.

Now, I pretty much know the major things my critique group will point out, but being able to talk out possible solutions makes revisions easier.

And we've gotten to know each other so well, that even when feedback punches ya hard in the gut, they genuinely want to help you improve your piece because they believe in you and your work.

Kari Marie said...

Oh wow. First of all. Walking and reading or editing? You are amazing. I would end up in the hospital. Second, I hate getting feedback, but I totally love how good the work feels after I've found a solution - because the work is almost always better for it. I can also totally relate to the too much going on thing. I routinely have to slash extraneous details/subplots.

Heather Savage said...

often wearing two hats, I have to say I have two answers. As an editor, I try to be positive and reinforce the parts I really like so that writers aren't taking the criticisms the wrong way. And I cross my fingers that when I get the MS back, those changes will be made. I hate to harp on a subject which I have to do if a crucial change is being ignored.
As a writer, I like to see how others see my stuff. We can be so in our own heads and seeing the characters, but if a reader isn't then we haven't done our jobs and I love to learn what I need to do to make it better. That doesn't mean I don't look at the remarks initially and say, "but I DID that." :)

Deniz Bevan said...

Love that cartoon! That's exactly how I feel. Darn it. You'd think it would get easier...

S. L. Hennessy said...

Hey, new follower and fellow insecure writer here. I HATE getting major feedback. It usually involves changing a lot of things, and that does NOT make me happy. But I do try to be open to it. Even the greatest writers needed help and editing - and I do too. So try to always keep an open mind when it comes to editing and critique. You never know when one change will make the perfect solution to a problem.

Good luck with your work and great post!
- http://pensuasion.blogspot.com/

lizzyBathory said...

I'm pretty good with major feedback. Its the minor, niggling things I have problems with. This is perhaps because my husband (still my primary reader) tends to focus more on my grammar than story, which drives me a little batty. When others read my writing, I generally have little problem with "this simply doesn't work..." and I go back and find something that does.