WEDNESDAY WRITING TIP: Reading your own crap

Posted: March 31, 2010 in Wednesday's Writing Tip
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I’m now rereading a novel I wrote.

It’s not part of the Duffy series (though some familiar faces make appearances.) It is very hard to step back and be objective.

I sent it to three very good friends who are voracious mystery readers for feedback. They all liked it and all had suggestions. They didn’t agree with each other’s suggestions much but all the feedback was excellent.

My original plan was then to send it to some of my writer friends.

Coincidently, I’m reading a book by Malcolm Gladwell called “Blink”. It’s fascinating study about how good decisions are made. He points out that our instincts, usually the sum of all our unconscious knowledge, should be listened to and followed. He also makes the point that too much information clouds good decision-making and interferes.

I’ve decided I’m not sending my manuscript around any more. I’m going to edit it and have a copy editor go through it for grammar and punctuation.

I’m a little nervous about it. But something tells me that it’s not a good idea to write by committee. It’s good to get feedback… but not too much.

I don’t think it is just that I want to be done. I think it is is something about instinct.

It’s my writing. I’m the storyteller.

I’m going with my gut.

  1. catconnor says:

    I’m a big believer in going with ones gut.

    Just reading through finished novel myself before handing it over to my publisher and editor. Had one writer friend/copyedit and make suggestions on this mss after first draft. From her advice, I took what felt right and ditched what didn’t. My gut wins every time.

    It’s 3:30 a.m. I’m still reading… brain won’t turn off just yet. πŸ™‚

  2. Ginny says:

    Go for it! Can’t wait to get my autographed copy!!! I have not known your gut to fail you in the past!

    Here’s to Happy Hour in Whorelando, Floridia next week!

  3. D.B. Dean says:

    excellent decision. I used to be an assistant at a pharma company. we had these huge protocols that would be written to determine how a clinical trial was run. We would write them, submit them to FDA, get requested changes and start on another draft. but the changes in house would drive me mad. I would take all the requested changes in hand written form and input them myself. The number of times I moved a single comma back and forth drove me insane. Writing by committee is bad bad idea.

  4. Dan says:

    Two of my favorite writing quotes: “There are three rules for writing a novel. However, no one knows what they are.” Somerset Maugham. And “No one knows anything.” William Goldman. One thing I’ve noticed, too, after producing hundreds of television commercials edited and re-edited by dozens of people, is this: “You’re not making it better. You’re just making it different.” Ultimately, it comes down to what story do you want to tell? And you’re the only one who can answer that.

  5. Jen Forbus says:

    Just do it!

    Plus it’ll cut down on the amount of space you’ll need in the acknowledgements section! πŸ˜‰

  6. Mark Terry says:

    I have a writer friend, Erica Orloff, who’s very successful and has published about 20 novels in a bunch of different genres and she swears by her writing critique group. I, on the other hand, don’t have a writer critique group, and in all honestly, don’t want one. I have an agent that tells me unequivocally whether she likes something or not (not often why, just whether she does or not) and in some ways that, as annoying as it may be, becomes something of an endpoint, because she won’t market it if she doesn’t like it. (Which begs the question, doesn’t the agent work for the writer? Oh, never mind.)

    That said, I’ve also noted that just about every time I’ve sent my agent something unfinished, she says she hates it. So, to me, if I had half a brain, I would NEVER send her anything unfinished, because it’ll kill the project and if I finish the damn thing I’m going to lean on her a lot more to market it, no matter what she thinks about it. I also suspect that she believes that if I’m asking her opinion mid-work, the reason I’m asking it is I don’t have any confidence in the project (which would probably be accurate).

    So when I do ask for opinions, I try to take them with a grain of salt and look for things that they all agree on.

    I had a technical editing gig that turned into a nightmare because the editorial board consisted of a doctor, a lawyer, and a PhD, and one other sorry schmuck that everybody ignored, and they spend 12 or 13 rounds of edits changing each other’s edits around until I finally pointed out what they were doing and got backup from the graphic design person, then I pretty much told them, “If you need me, you know my number. If you don’t need me–and there’s no evidence you value my opinion on anything whatsoever–for God sakes, don’t call me.”

    Never heard from them again, thank God.

  7. Twelve readers will have thirteen opinions. And many of them will be right, as you say. But in the end it’s got to be about your gut.

    I’m excited to read, too!

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