Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Writer Wednesday: Handling Conflicting Feedback

Today's Writer Wednesday topic comes from Mirka Breen. She wants to know how you approach contradictory feedback on your WIP.

If you're getting feedback on your work, you're doing the right thing as far as taking measures to improve your manuscript. But that doesn't mean it will be easy. Getting contradictory feedback from beta readers, agents, or even editors can throw you for a loop. If this happens, there are two things you should do.

First, remember that reading is subjective. If the feedback is about something that could be personal preference, then there is likely no need to fix it. If one reader doesn't like a character quirk or the way a character handled a situation, then that's reader preference, not necessarily something you did wrong as the author. Similarly, if a reader hates that you ended with a cliffhanger, that's personal preference again. I happen to love cliffhangers. ;) So basically this kind of feedback is preparing you for future reviews and how different readers will have different reactions to your book. There's nothing wrong with that.

The second thing you should do is look at the feedback and decide if you agree or not. It's YOUR book. Let me repeat that. It's YOUR book. You know the world and the characters best. If you feel you did what is best for your book and only one person questioned it, you're fine. Now, if you reflect on that feedback and think there's a possibility that reader is right, then you should try making adjustments and seeing if those adjustments improve the story. They just might.

So really, you have to decide what feedback you listen to and what feedback you chalk up to personal opinion.

*If you have a question you'd like me to answer from the other side of the editor's desk, feel free to leave it in the comments and I'll schedule it for a future post.

20 comments:

  1. So true, Kelly. There have been many times that I had this deep down feeling that something was wrong. If someone else comments about it, then I definitely change it. Great advice!

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    1. Yes, sometimes feedback confirms a suspicion we already have. Then we know revisions are necessary.

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  2. I'm with you. I think it's important to hand the story out to two or 3 people at a time. Things that two to three people say should probably be heeded. Aspects only one person addresses are completely up to you.

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    1. Yes. I lone opinion is usually just that.

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  3. These are some good points. I usually give feedback a bit of time to sink in, and sometimes revisiting critique notes later helps me more clearly see which notes I agree with.

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    1. Yes, time really can give you perspective.

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  4. That's a good question. I think all feedback should be seen as "suggestions." You take what is suggested into account but in the end, it's your work and therefore your decision. I try not to get too much feedback on my work before my agent and editor see it because I've learned the hard way that they seem to have very strong (and VERY informed) opinions on things. As a professional editor, you know--you guys have experience that informs your feedback. Many fellow writers and beta readers don't have that.

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    1. That's a good point, Stephanie. Those who work in the industry do have insider info. ;)

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  5. Great advice. It's good to remember that everyone has his/her opinion and thoughts. I appreciate what they have to say. If more than one makes the same suggestions, I probably need to change it.

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    1. Yes, getting the same feedback from multiple people means something isn't working.

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  6. As always, great advice, Kelly. When I began sharing my work I took every bit of professional and personal feedback as requiring a remedy. I've had many contradictory comments by now to weigh it as requiring attention, but not necessarily a fix. I am at a point where if I get one nugget that resonates, I count myself richly rewarded and grateful for the help. I feel the same way about feedback I give. If even one bit is helpful, I'm glad.

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    1. Yes, it is good to look at the feedback you provide for others in the same light. :)

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  7. Wonderful advice, Kelly! It is always important to remember that the writer needs to take the advice and think about if they agree with it or not. Reading is definitely subjective.
    ~Jess

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  8. Good advice, especially since it's coming from an editor and experienced writer. Sometimes a suggestion reflects the beta reader's preference, that's all.

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    1. Yes, and personal preference is just that. ;)

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