Thursday, May 5, 2016

Accepting A Critique

I have exciting news! My manuscript was selected to be part of #FicFest! There were over 400 entries into the contest and 45 writers were picked, along with 15 alternates, to be mentored. I'm honoured and thrilled for this opportunity.

As I await for my mentor to provide her suggested revisions for my urban fantasy manuscript, I'm reading reactions from some of the other mentees as they also wait or start to receive revisions from mentors. I see lots of excitement and nervousness, and a lot of hope that their stories will be greatly improved by this experience.

In preparation of this round of revisions for my novel, I thought it apt to discuss some things to keep in mind when receiving a critique. I'm talking about every level, whether it be from a critique partner or an editor. Hopefully you have a good person providing the feedback who is honest and has the best interests of the story at heart. Critiques should NEVER be an attack on the story or writer, but look at both strengths and weaknesses.

Receiving a critique on something you have spent hundreds of hours working on and that you are emotionally tied to can be a challenge. Sometimes when you see the feedback a light bulb goes off and you wonder why you hadn't thought of the suggestions before. Other times you want to cross your arms, and say no.

When I had my manuscript edited by a freelance editor, the very wise Kate Angelella, she suggested that I read the edit letter, put it away for a least a day and not think about it, then go back to it. This is sound advice. Your initial reaction to suggested revisions can be mixed or upsetting. It's best to give yourself time to digest the suggestions.

You need to consider every suggestion as objectively as possible. This can be hard because you are so invested in your manuscript. Try to be open to new ideas. Sometimes we are resistant because we have rose-coloured glasses on when we look at our work; sometimes we are afraid of how much work it will take to incorporate the revisions (a manuscript overhaul can be extremely daunting); sometimes we are just being stubborn. Everyone has their own reasons. Think on the suggestions and consider if it will make your manuscript better.

Do you need to blindly accept suggestions? No. You should be open and willing to make changes, but if you disagree with a suggested revision, you don't have to do it--but you should know why. Don't be blinded by pride, have a valid reason as to why the aspect of the story needs to remain. It's best to discuss the revision with the person who made the suggestion, listen to their side, maybe once it's discussed you will agree, or maybe you won't. If your manuscript is being reviewed by an agent or editor at a publishing house, you will need to defend your choice.

If someone has taken time to read your whole manuscript and given it enough thought to provide you with ways to improve it, be grateful. You don't have to agree with everything suggested, but you owe it to that person to take their thoughts under serious consideration.

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