This week I have been lucky enough to get some detailed and excellent editorial advice from a publisher regarding the full MS of one of my shorter romance novels. The lovely editor has asked me to rewrite it and polish it and send it back directly to her. I am taking this as a good sign. I know that some writers are precious about their work to the extent that they see all feedback and/or constructive criticism as simply criticism and refuse to make any changes but for me constructive criticism is positive.
This is because I feel it means that someone has become emotionally invested enough in my writing to spend time on it and offer some suggestions as to how I might make it better. And why wouldn’t I want to make it better? If it ever gets out into the public domain, I want it to be the best it can be. The critique is not about me personally, it’s about my writing. And yes, my writing is personal to me, but of all the writing / how to get published books I’ve read, it’s that feedback is like gold dust and is meant to help..it’s not about someone saying, this is a load of rubbish, it’s about someone saying, there might be something reasonable here..and here’s how to improve it to make it good..or even great. The advice from publishers and agents also seems to be that if you want to make a succesful career of writing, you need to be able to show a willingness to take criticism on the chin and work with it. I think the key probably lies in finding a balance. This between what editorial advice you agree with, where you think, yes, that makes sense, they’ve got a point and you change the MS as a consequence. Versus the advice you look at and think, I strongly disagree with that, it won’t work and I’m not willing to change the plot/characters etc to that extent, in which case you stand firm and don’t change it; after all, the work still belongs to you. You have to be comfortable with it and have conviction in it if you are going to, at some point, be persuading people to buy it in the event that it is published.
I won’t pretend rewriting and polishing is easy. It’s not; it can be pretty painful. The agony is in how long it can take and how demoralising it can be to tear your MS apart and put it back together. The ecstasy is in looking at the finished product and thinking..this is much better.
Personally, I go old school for this part of the writing process. I print off the MS and get a pen and physically strike things out, make changes etc on the page, I then (try to) read through the altered MS and once I’m happy with it, I make the changes on the MS in the Word document on my laptop. I then print it off and read through it again to check it makes sense. After that, I send it off. After that….?
I’ll let you know how I get on – in the meantime I’d love to hear about other people’s experiences of editorial criticism; how it was worded, how they handled it, how / if the MS was rewritten as a result, using what methods..and crucially if the rewrites/polishing lead to any success…or if not, a better piece of writing?
Have a great weekend,
Happy Writing, Nikki x
p.s. you might like to know that my writer’s business cards turned up (early) and I’m really pleased with them!