Posts Tagged With: editing

It’s YOUR Story – Part 2

Last November I wrote a section of my “What I Wish I’d Known” series concerning how, in the end, it’s your story.  Despite all the feedback you receive, the final decisions are yours.  The story is yours and yours alone.  Today, I’d like to talk about it some more.  We’ll call this “It’s YOUR Story – Part 2.”

We’ve all seen the writer who completely changes their entire manuscript every time someone provides any sort of feedback.  These are the sorts of writers who spend months and sometimes even years revising and revising until the novel and story they began with becomes so twisted and convoluted not even they know what’s happening anymore.  Some of us may even be that person.  Don’t get me wrong, revising is a good thing. Getting external feedback from others is a good thing.  In fact, I will go so far as to say they’re both NECESSARY THINGS.

But the story is still yours.

Just because you receive a suggestion, revision request, or negative criticism doesn’t mean you have to listen to it.  It doesn’t mean you have to change your manuscript.  There’s a skill every author needs to develop at some point in their career where they can determine for themselves what feedback is necessary to the story, and which is not.  It’s not a solid line of demarcation and is developed over a lifetime, but it’s a vital skill.  How does one balance the arrogance of saying it doesn’t need to be changed with the requisite humility to implement the actual needed changes and the wisdom to know which is which?

Practice.

Frankly, all authors are a little arrogant at heart.  We have to be.  How else would we stare into the face of possible rejection and try anyway?  How else would we make the arrogant assumption that anything we write would want to be read and enjoyed by anyone other than ourselves?  Yet we make those assumptions, we try, we write, and we persist.

But in order to improve we have to be willing to change and do better.  That only comes through being humble enough to ask for and accept criticism and then figure out how to implement it and improve.  Does it sound hard?  Yes.  Why?

Because it IS hard.

Hard things, however, become easier with practice. If you remember nothing else, remember that.  Hard things become easier with practice.  They don’t become easy, just easier.  You’ll find that balance as you continue to write and practice your craft.  Don’t spend your whole life in an endless cycle of revisions and re-writes.  No novel is perfect, not even published ones.  If you’re getting lost in that cycle, end it by setting the project aside and writing something new.  You’ve got this, after all, it’s your story.  No one can tell it quite as well as you can.  Just remember that no one only has one story – keep writing and practicing until you’ve developed that skill to discern what feedback to take and what feedback to tastefully ignore.  It’s a vital skill, but one I’m confident all writers who are persistence in their craft can master.  You’ll do it.  Don’t worry.  It’s there within you.

Categories: What I Wish I'd Known, Writing/Editing Tips | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What I Wish I’d Known – Part 4

It’s YOUR Story

Last time we talked about the editing and revision process.  Editors are awesome.  They help you out with so much.  So do your beta readers, alpha readers, friends, fans, and everyone else involved in the process.  They are all integral and important.

But it’s still YOUR story.

You came up with the concept.  You put in the hours to get the story down on paper.  You subjected yourself to criticism, suggestions, and outside opinions to make the story better.  You did the work.  It is YOUR story.  It isn’t anyone else’s but yours.

While it is extremely important to give your fans and readers what they want – they’re the ones buying it after all – you started this process for you.  While your editors have brilliant suggestions and ultimately a massive part in the final product sent to print, you’re not out to please them – not entirely at least.  Writing is something that you do.  Your own personal happiness and satisfaction with the story is your most important goal because why would someone buy something you yourself aren’t proud of?

In many respects, your story is you and you are that story.  You have to represent it, market it, talk about it, dream about it, and – most importantly – convince people to buy it.  People will come to associate that novel with you and you with the story.  Do you want that association with something you aren’t happy with?  You can’t rely on just your editors to make it perfect – you have to make it the perfect story too.

At this point, you’re probably saying to yourself, “Well, duh – it’s my story.  Why is this important?  How would I ever forget that?”  That’s a good question.  The answer to that is simple.

There will be so many different people throughout the process who will look at, edit, and provide suggestions on the text itself that that beacon of though “this is your story,” will get a little hazy.  You’ll have cover artists trying to capture the essence of your story into a single, overarching image that simultaneously draws people in AND gives them a glimpse into the heart of the novel itself.  You’ll have editors suggest changes to wording, phrasing, details, characters, first lines, and every minutia of detail that you’ll have moments where you think you have to please everyone and compromise your own personal opinions of what you’d like in the story.  You’ll get a manuscript back from someone (editor/beta reader/writing group) so full of suggestions/comments/criticisms that it will hit all the feels.  Your opinions of what needs to happen in each of these situations will sometimes differ greatly from those providing the suggestions.  Sometimes you won’t know they’re suggestions at all.

There will be times where you forget that THIS IS YOUR STORY.

But don’t.

This is YOUR story.  After all the editing, after all the suggestions, changes, critiques, and tweak this is still your story.  You make it what you want it to be.  Yes, your editors and other critique partners are helping you make it better, but in the end, the changes are yours, the revisions are yours, and the ultimate responsibility for the manuscript is yours.  If there’s something you don’t like, change it.  If it’s not something you can change yourself (like cover art or back blurbs or marketing campaigns) talk to the appropriate party and voice your concerns.

YOU have invested the time.  YOU have come up with the amazing novel that everyone will want to read.  YOU did the worldbuilding.  YOU brought life to the characters.  YOU took the time, put words to a page, and wrote the book.  It is YOUR story.

Enjoy it.  It is your story.

Categories: What I Wish I'd Known | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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