I was a beginning writer once. Heck, I still think I’m a beginning writer, sometimes. I also have a lot of contact, both on and off the interwebs, with other writers, beginning writers, hobby writers, and the like.
In my past life as a teacher, I tend to be the person to whom people came for advice. Now that I’m a (beginning ) writer who has been published, the questions abound. I don’t give advice anymore. I don’t, really, you know why? I think that if you’re asking the question, eighty percent of the time, you already have the answer and either are in denial or are looking for someone else to simply agree with your assessment of the situation.
And, if you’re wrong, you’ll be looking for a long time.
I was fortunate enough to run upon Holly Lisle’s books and courses and something she said in her book “Mugging the Muse”
To paraphrase, those who ask others about writing, are given an answer, then say “but….”? That means they don’t LIKE the answer you‘ve given and have already made up their minds.
These type of people, you can’t help, so don’t waste your time.
I’ll give a brief example from my own experience. I submitted my first book, Kitty Wishes, as a short story for an Evernight anthology call. I was told that though the anthology was full, if I expanded the story, then it could be released on its own.
If I were a lunkhead, I could have said “But….I wrote the story as a short story! It stands as I created it!!! I’ll shop it somewhere else! How dare you ask ME to chaaaaaaange!!!”
Did I say that? No. To me, that was an opportunity to expand on characterization and place. So I did, and it was published.
Same with beta readers. If you’ve picked a good beta reader, pay attention to what they say. Sure, being criticized hurts.
Who among us wants our work to be picked apart?
Those of us who want to be GOOD at what we do.
When the publishers say, “Give me the same thing…only different!” DO it. They know what they want and are asking for it in plain language. Don’t lament that “they only want this, they only want that” Yeah. They do “only want this, only want that” because in their experience, that sells.
Don’t change the publisher. Change your writing. OR, find a publisher that will accept your type of writing. Just don’t “butt” your head against a brick wall trying to bend the publisher to YOUR will. You will end up with a very sore head and an empty bank account.
Have I said too much? There’s nothing more I can think of to say to you/ But all you do is look at me to know that every word is true……
Write long to prosper!
Adonis Devereux says
Amen to all of the above!
Kayelle Allen says
My first critique from the late Barbara Karmazin was a shocker. I had joined a critique group where she was a member, and was hoping for insight, but she had picked apart my perfect writing! I was devastated. I licked my wounds for three days. Then it dawned on me that if I couldn’t take advice from someone who wanted to help me, how could I take criticism from a reviewer? I made the suggested changes and resubmitted them to the group. When Barbara saw I was willing to work and learn, she took me under her wing. When the book was finished, she introduced me to her publisher. My first book was finished in February, sold in April, and was published in July. Why? Because I was willing to change. That was the entire key. As Adonis said: Amen!
ps: Barbara Karmazin was affectionately known to the group as Chainsaw for her intense critiques. She is greatly missed.
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