Thursday, August 30, 2012
Too Many Hands In The Pot
Sometimes it's not good to get too much advice, too many opinions.
It muddies the water.
When I was pregnant, I got (sometimes unsolicited) advice on everything from natural childbirth to breastfeeding to baby names. And no matter my final decision, I never pleased everyone. I took the advice that resonated with me and left the rest. An exception might have been a warning that everyone told me to heed--that was something to pay close attention to.
It's the same with critiques of your manuscript, by betas or CP's. Too many critiques would mess with your mojo, let alone your brain. I think a good number is three, maybe even four. One to two might be too few, not enough diversity. Just depends.
Because what you need is enough of a difference of opinion to keep you on your toes and get you thinking. Enough to make you a stronger writer. One beta might focus really well on sentence structure, while another is good at story structure. Also, it helps to look for patterns, likes and dislikes in certain scenes, paragraphs, sentences.
Learn to listen, and not listen, suck it up and say enough is enough. It's your book, your writing, your baby. Stay true to yourself while learning to bend. Easy peasy, right? O_o
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LOL I'm bad at this. I tend to get stretched all over the place when I get feedback on my stories.
The worse advice I received was when my oldest was 14 months old. He had what was believed to be a cold, and a daycare worker told me to give him honey. He didn't need honey. He had RSP (respiratory disease that's like a cold but deadly to those at high risk--like my son). He had to be hospitalized and put on oxygen therapy.
So true. This is what happened to me when I was just starting out. Not only was it confusing, but overwhelming and it totally destroyed my book because I tried to listen to everyone. Thank goodness it was able to be saved!
WOW, Stina—honey sounds like some old wives tale!
Jess, me too, that first book (it was NOT saved)! :D
That makes total sense. After a while, you'd feel like you don't even know which way to turn.
I had to learn this myself from taking creative writing classes. Hearing 12 opinions on a single piece was overwhelming, and I was so new to it I thought I had to take all the advice. Now I've got two great crit partners, and great beta readers, to help me craft my story into the best it can be :).
Seems like I haven't been here in years ...
This is very timely advice for me, as it's something I've been thinking about a lot lately. It especially resonates with me when I think about the advice/criticism I've been given on my query. Some of it is very helpful (and I'll probably use it), but at the end of the day I'm the one who knows my story and what I can and can't give away in the query. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this! :)
You haven't, Matt (*boo hoo*)! Actually, I've been on a long blogging break! :D
Jaime, glad it may help! Good luck!
Yes, too many critiques does muddle it a bit. But at least three!
When I think back to the amount of people who read and critiqued my first novel (not CRACKED), I roll my eyes. I had everyone from students I was teaching at the time to my nephew's student teacher read it. And I seriously heeded ALL of their feedback - all 40+ of them.
I had to re-write the novel from blank page.
This is the hardest part of writing for me, and some really good advice you've got here.
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