I’m so excited about today’s guest blogger—she’s one of my favorite authors and favorite people. Today, the fabulous T.M. Franklin discusses dealing with criticism of your manuscript.
Five Tips for Dealing with Criticism
by T.M. Franklin
You’ve come up with the idea, written the words, prettied and polished it up until it’s perfect, and then someone—an editor, reviewer, a blogger—says those words every author dreads.
It’s not perfect.
No. Say it ain’t so.
So what do you do? Take the “It’s my story. It’s my vision!” route, stomp your proverbial foot, and ignore any and all criticism? Or swing the other way on the pendulum of overreacting and kowtow to any and all suggestions that come your way?
It’s difficult not to take criticism about your writing personally when it’s such a personal thing. Writers pull from their imaginations, their experiences—sometimes yanking the words from the deep, dark recesses of their psyche. (Or maybe something not quite as dramatic, but equally true.) When someone suggests a change or a problem, our first instinct is to fight back.
Although I hate the analogy, it’s the “Don’t say that about my baby!” response.
I’ve struggled with this myself, but my bigger problem is second-guessing. I often obsess about feedback. Is it true? Is this wrong? Did I miss something? Should I rewrite the first five chapters? Is this horrible garbage and should I spare the world any future horribleness and never put pen to paper again?
There is a middle ground, however, and I’ve found it comes down to five main things:
1. Remember: It’s not personal.
I know it’s hard. Let me say this again: I KNOW IT’S HARD. Remember, these people are reading a story, and they’re reacting to that story. Often, they have a clearer picture of what works and what doesn’t because they’re not as close to it as the author is. It’s not personal to them. It’s just a story. Think about the last book you read. Did you wonder about how long it took the author to write it? Ponder the difficulty or writing that scene where X did Y to Z? No, you read the book and had an opinion about it. That’s how it works.
2. Believe the people who want to make the story better.
Editors, proofreaders, critique partners—they all want to see you succeed. They want the book to be the best it can be. Think about the motivation of the person offering the criticism. If they want to help, or even are an unbiased third party, listen. This doesn’t mean you have to take every suggestion. Listen. Evaluate. If it makes sense, go for it. If not, move on.
3. In the timeless words of New Edition, “Cool it Now.”
Am I dating myself with that reference? If you’re not familiar with the epicness that is New Edition, educate yourself HERE.
Anyhoo, the idea is simple but important. Don’t react in the heat of the moment. Wait twenty-four hours to do anything. Give yourself some time to absorb what’s been said and to calm down so you can look at it in an objective manner. (See #1)
4. If it feels wrong, stick to your guns.
If you’ve thought about the criticism, asked for input from others you trust, and if the advice still seems wrong, don’t change a thing. In the end, it is your story. It’s your name attached to it, and you have to feel comfortable with what’s on those pages.
5. Remember: Not everyone is going to love it.
This is probably the toughest one of all. Every author wants every reader to love every word he or she has written. It isn’t going to happen. Some people just won’t like your book. That doesn’t mean it’s bad. It means it wasn’t for them. The key is to find the people who like your work. They are your audience.
Dealing with criticism is something every author has to do, and how you deal with it will not only impact how you feel about your own writing but how others feel about you. The important thing is to find that middle ground where you can look at your writing objectively, or, at least, listen to those who can. Stick to your vision, but be open to suggestions to improve. In the end, it will only make your writing stronger.
About the Author:
T.M. Franklin started out her career writing non-fiction in a television newsroom. Graduating with a B.A. in Communications specializing in broadcast journalism and production, she worked for nine years as a major market television news producer, and garnered two regional Emmy Awards before she resigned to be a full-time mom and part-time freelance writer. Her first published novel, MORE, was born during National Novel Writing month, a challenge to write a novel in thirty days. MORE was well-received, being selected as a finalist in the 2013 Kindle Book Review Best Indie Book Awards, as well as winning the Suspense/Thriller division of the Blogger Book Fair Reader’s Choice Awards.
In addition to MORE and its sequel, The Guardians, Franklin penned the Amazon best-selling short story, Window, as well as another short story, A Piece of Cake, which appears in the Romantic Interludes anthology. TWELVE, the final installment in the MORE Trilogy will be released in the fall of 2014.
Connect with T.M. Franklin