Sunday, December 8, 2013

Sometimes there is no right answer in writing

Writing is an art form not a science. Like many art forms it has basic rules. You can learn perspective for painting and theory for music and you can also learn to recognize many guidelines in writing, things that most professional writers simply don't do--or do do as the case may be. However, again like most art forms, it is going to come down to taste and there are extreme versions of different things that make good art. You  can't really compare Pollock to Da Vinci, but no matter how much one appeals to you more than another, that doesn't make the one art and the other not. It's personal preference, pure and simple.

You can debate which one takes more skill or talent or which one has more meaning, but at the end of the day, how can you really judge something so subjective?

I have written again and again about how you need the opinions of others to improve your writing. No matter how awesome your work may seem to you or how many times you think you have gone over it, a second opinion--followed by a third and a fourth, etc--is invaluable.

At first there should be plenty to change without worrying too much about differing in put. It's when you are getting down to the polishing stage it can be frustrating. That's when you will probably find people pulling your book in multiple directions as to what they think it should be.

The main reason I'm showing you this segment of a critique is the line "I'd like to see a little more description for my taste."

This person wants more explanation, more description, more clarification.

But then I get. . .
"You tend to over describe or put them in the wrong places."

These critiques were literally back to back on the same chapter. (You can check out the chapter for yourself here and see what you think if you are really curious.). The inline (the critiques done in the text themselves where they referenced specific areas) were even more confusing. One person was complimenting every description then asking for more details on the areas in between. The other was cutting out every section the first dude was complimenting.

I sat there panicking. Who was right? What was I supposed to do? Which way should I go?

One school of thinking is that if half the people in the room are telling you it is too hot and the other half are telling you it is too cold, you probably have the thermostat set as close to perfect as you are going to get, but I don't think writing really works that way. You aren't trying to provide a happy medium where everyone is happy with you. You are trying to make your best work which will appeal to readers of your sort of writing. So if you have one group of people requesting a refrigerator and the others a sauna, go ahead and pick one. Those will be your fans. Ignore the rest of them!

So how did I choose? After agonizing about it for a day or two, I sat down and made two versions of chapter one (the chapter in question). I left version one basically as is, made a few small descriptive tweaks, but nothing extreme. Version two I cut EVERYTHING extra. Long descriptions. Boom. Gone. Extra world building details, set them aside for later.

Thankfully I was able to get a hold of a friend on short notice who reads within my genre and asked her to look over both and see which she preferred. Her answer. Version one was  the winner but it could use a little more description to immerse people in the world.

Ta Da! Answer!

So I spent this afternoon adding in some more description and clarifying a few points, and I'm feeling pretty good.

Until the next critique I'm sure.
Wish me luck!



Reading List: Cozy Reading Spot

4 comments:

  1. Wow, it just shows you can't please all of the people...ever! But boy, we can get better when we allow ourselves to be open to direction (within reason). As you showed, it can be overwhelming, and also as with the art subjective. Still , congrats for persevering, pressing on and allowing yourself to be transformed in and by the process! I am sure what you will learn will be invaluable to your growth as a writer! Best wishes...and luck! ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, I'm definitely getting closer. I found some "beta readers" through Goodreads and am hoping to get the input I need to sew up all my literary loose ends.

      Delete
  2. It is hard to find a way to please critics, and as a book reviewer, I can honestly say I hate the time when it comes to saying what I would improve, but as a writer, I know the author poured herself into it! It sounds like you took such remarks in stride and are able to move forward!

    Also Heidi, you link up with Cozy Reading Spot often and I put many posts up on Twitter, but I don't think I have a Twitter name for you - are you on Twitter? Thought about it? Let me know if you are and I'll make sure to tag you!

    Thanks for linking up again!

    Marissa

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am on twitter but not very active @typativemamacat is my handle. Mostly I just use it to get an extra entry on rafflecopter giveaways.

      Delete