There’s a simple truth in writing: no one can write your story but you.
And no one should.
It’s imperative as a writer to recognize when someone is providing constructive criticism or simply brainstorming your plot for themselves, and it takes a while to figure out.
I’ve spent the last year writing and rewriting projects because I know I’ve grown as I’ve worked with a good number of critique partners and entered contests in the past. I’m constantly learning, and I knew these rewrites were coming. So did my CPs.
Most of them are really good about making sure they communicate that something is just a suggestion. And, inherently, everything they tell me about a manuscript should be nothing more than “just a suggestion”, but my brain gets into this mode where I start to separate things. Suggestions vs. actual, technical critiques of things that should be changed.
Sometimes things get put into the wrong category. It happens. But it’s even easier to do when you really respect the other person or they’re farther along than you are, as if they hold some sort of secret wisdom you haven’t gotten yet and if you ever met them in real life you’d be all like:
So you want to believe every word they say, take all of their suggestions, and change your entire story.
Don’t do that. (Trust me on this one. It’s not fun to fall into this trap.)
Your story is the way it is for a reason. There are themes and threads from your original draft that will and should hold true to every draft you write. You may not be able to list them now, but they’ll keep reappearing regardless. One of mine is trust and the importance of family.
And there are going to be points where people make suggestions that totally work against those themes or main ideas that you have for your MS. If they rub you the wrong way, don’t listen to them.
You are the one who ultimately has to be happy with your manuscript. Write it for you; not someone else. Sure, you’ll get critiqued on characterization, world building, awkward jumps in pacing, but those are all technical elements that can be fixed and still maintain the integrity of your story as a whole.
If someone suggests that “it would be cooler if _______ happened here”, don’t listen to them. They’re brainstorming your plot for themselves and it will do nothing to help you. Feel free to ask for brainstorming help when you need it, but just because something sounds cool, doesn’t mean it has to be included in your MS if it doesn’t fit. You don’t have to make everyone happy.
Your real responsibility is to you. So take your own advice and follow your gut. Obviously, think about the advice you get on your past drafts and reflect on what needs to change/stay the same between this one and the next. But shut out your CPs and beta reader advice when you start rewriting. Otherwise there are too many writers fighting for the pen.
So follow your gut and take your own advice. Because if you love your story, chances are someone else will too, and that’s all that matters.
(Click the birds)
Take your own advice when it comes to #writing and #rewriting… via @hannahhuntwrite #writingtips
It’s important to get feedback, but just as crucial to know when to take your own advice #writingtip via @hannahhuntwrite