Thursday, December 25, 2014

Risking Criticism

I've recently delved into an area that frightens most writers - I've given the first little bit of a new novel to people for them to read.  I've asked for feedback, and I now wait with trepidation for them to hack away at my

This is part of the process, and a necessary part.  The novel is in its fledgling stages, and I need to know now what's working and what's not.  There is little more discouraging than getting quite a way into writing a book, only to discover that what you've written is crap.  Better to find out up front that you need a complete re-working so you don't waste as much effort.

That doesn't make it any less intimidating.  Giving people your work and telling them to criticize you is hard.  No matter what we say, most folks don't react well to criticism.  It's natural to get defensive and justify why things were written a certain way.  It's even easier to brush off such criticism with the snide, "Well, they just don't get my work."  And while easy, such measures don't help you write a better book.  You must be willing to endure criticism and accept it as an act of love, as well as being constructive, if you want to improve.

Of course, none of this means you have to accept, verbatim, all the critiques you'll get.  Reading tastes are subjective, so no two people will see the same novel in the same way.  I plan to use the critiques as a way to sift for potentially useful ideas.  As always, any criticism that becomes a theme, aka - several people saying basically the same thing, deserves a much closer look.  What one person says, one can dismiss; what four people say becomes harder to overlook.

I expect that having a ready made audience will also keep me motivated.  This book is going to be big, as in the biggest, longest novel I've yet produced.  That's not because I've become some blowhard, but rather due to the nature of the novel.  It takes place over 75 years and is divided into three acts, with each one able to stand alone.  However, the story fits as one, so I'll publish it as one.  That's another big reason to get it right from the beginning.

If you hear me weeping in the corner, you'll know it's because these people have broken my spirit, and I'll have little reason to go on.  Just kidding - I'm too egotistical to let anyone get to me that much.  Hopefully they'll enjoy it.  If not, hopefully they'll provide me feedback to make it better.  I guess we'll find out soon enough.


  1. Ouch, you are brave to submit for critiques before you are done! A bad critique when I'm not done could stop me in my tracks! But with the right person, asking a generic opinion about what they think about the plot CAN help things along.

    1. I always try to remember to keep such criticism in context. Reading tastes are subjective, and what one person says might mean little. It's trends I'm looking for, or things I didn't pick up on. That makes it easier to accept. ;-)