I saw this quote on editorial feedback by Phyllis Reynold. It tweaked my interest because I attended a revision workshop, some years back, where she and two others from Vermont College were the presenters. “For the first day, I think, I cannot do this! She’s asking too much! But by the second or third day I can see how it all makes sense. I don’t always do what she wants, or I do it in a different way. But a criticism means that there is something that jars, something that is not quite right. And whether it seems right or not to you, it’s not getting across to someone else. So you need to rethink it, even if you don’t agree in the end.”
Do you agree that a criticism simply means there is something in your ms that isn’t quite right?
I think looking at critiques this way can be very helpful. If someone or several someones suggest changes to a particular section or scene in your novel, I think you need to spend the time to revise that area. Not that you have to fix it in the way the critiquer suggested, but that it means something isn’t clear.
For self-help in revising your manuscript, check out this link to writing tips from Jennifer Nielsen http://www.jennielsen.com/for-writers (and remember Jennifer is one of our mini-workshop presenters this year at WIFYR http://www.wifyr.com).
Here’s my favorite of her tips: 17. Know the difference between helpful details and distracting ones. It is too much detail for example, to write, “He stood up, smoothed his clothing, cleared his throat, smiled ever so slightly, and walked forward, beginning with his right foot.” Choose the details that matter and leave the rest out.
And tip 32 is spot on: Revise. And revise and revise and revise. Learn to love revision, because this is where good writing becomes great.
Choose a scene from your novel that could use some help and revise it!