Success only flourishes in perseverance -- ceaseless, restless perseverance.
--Baron Manfred Von Richtofen

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Writer's Intuition and Revising

It's sad, but true. Your story won't come out perfect the first time through. You're going to have to revise. You're going to have to get critiques. You're going to have to watch others tear your baby to shreds. And you're going to need some Writer's Intuition to guide you here too. Because not all revisions are created equal. Not every suggestion from your crit partners or beta readers is going to be good for your story, no matter how good of critiquers they are.

It is hard to get critiqued. I know that. And you shouldn't just dismiss anyone's suggestions out of hand. (Well, maybe some you can reject out of hand. Like I once got a critique that said, Your main character should be an energy being instead of flesh and blood. Um, okay.) But in general you should at least consider all the suggestions made. Then use your intuition to know which to use and which to ignore.

My rule of thumb is that any suggestions that make me excited to make changes are good suggestions. Those that don't, just aren't right for the story. Just remember that it 's your story and no one else's. Only you know what will make it truly shine. Your Writer's Intuition will show you the way.

22 comments:

Rebecca said...

This is an excellent post, and very timely as I'm submitting my first chapter to my critique group this week. I've been critiqued before, but not from several people at once, so thank you so much for this! Your words have taken away a touch of anxiety, and I'll probably read them again after each critique!

Nicole MacDonald said...

Very good points :) And knowing to trust yourself - sure we're all learning but that doesn't mean all our ideas are wrong :) Have a great weekend!

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OfficeGirl said...

Excellent advice!!!

Charmaine Clancy said...

Very good advice. The hardest part of being critiqued, I think, is submitting your work in the first place. :-)

Theresa Milstein said...

You're right. There have been critiques that I'm adamantly against the suggestions at first. But sitting on the idea for 2-4 days, I come around. There have been a couple of instances, my instinct kicks in and I know the suggestions are wrong.

Terry W. Ervin II said...

Angie, you need to talk to my students--never perfect the first time out.

I find that with readers, if two or more independently bring up a concern, I give it a lot more weight.

Nichole Giles said...

I agree with your thoughts about critiques. Great post!

Angie said...

Thanks for the comments, everyone! I agree, Terry. If more than one reader brings up an issue, it's definitely time to take notice.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

My test readers are pretty savvy and smart - their suggestions are usually for the best!

WindyA said...

What a thoughtful post, Angie! I think your perspective is a great one to have, because really, one thing to always remember with critiques is ... this is YOUR book and no one knows the story quite as well as you do.

Stephanie Black said...

So true. Critiques are immensely valuable and we should consider the feedback carefully (even when it stings), but ultimately, we have to be the judges of what's best for the story. I liked Theresa's suggestion of letting it sit for a few days--sometimes, it's hard to see clearly at first while the feedback is still stinging, but after we've cooled down, we can see more clearly if the feedback will benefit the story, or if we disagree with it.

LTM said...

hey, I like that rule of thumb! That IS what I do, and I'd just never really stopped and realzed it!

LOL! at the MC as "energy." *snort* :D Yes, there are some crits we can graciously ignore... ;p And *sigh*. Why can't they just spring perfectly formed from us a'la Prometheus??? Revisions are so BORING. :D <3

Angie said...

Thanks, Stephanie. I think that's a good policy.

Danyelle said...

Awesome post, Angie! I feel exactly the same. Beta readers are worth their weight in gold, but whether I make the changes or not depends entirely on the gut. I know I've gotten a good crit when I--the girl who hates the revising process--actually feel excited about diving in. :D

Velvet Over Steel said...

Absolutely right, Angie!!! :-)

Angela Felsted said...

You're so right, Angie. So important to get help and then listen to our intuition, otherwise it all gets very confusing.

Mary Campbell said...

I agree with you. Unless I agree immediately with the changes I like to mull over them for awhile. I rarely just disregard crits, but I do take my time in deciding if the changes are good.

Melanie Goldmund said...

I really like that rule of thumb and it's absolutely right. Even if a critique hurts at first, once you've had a day or two to think it over, then your mind starts churning away and before you know it, you're excited to make those changes because you know it will improve your story! Thanks for putting into words what I instinctively felt but couldn't communicate. :-)

Melissa said...

Such a great point. Critiques need to be checked about your writer intuition. Writers just have to be careful not to think they are too good for critiques and they are infallible!

dellgirl said...

This is a great post. I like how yoou explained writer's intuition, good point.

I thought I’d take a break to stop by and say “Hello”.

Angie said...

Hey, Melanie. Thanks for stopping by. You too Dellgirl.

Jolene Perry said...

There are very few things I love more than getting back suggestions that make me say. "Yes! And then I can do... and then... Perfect!"

It's a FAB feeling. I've found that generally, with each project, comes a person who is THE perfect person to review that project.

It's lovely :)