Writing Critique, Editing, & You

This is a topic I really want to write on and I may have more to say about it another time. Accepting that your story needs changes or that your writing needs work can be hard to hear and accept. Even just having a typo pointed out might get you down. But don’t let it get you too down. No one is perfect. If writers were all perfect editors wouldn’t be needed. So seriously, please don’t be perfect or I’d be out of a job. Most of those books you see on the shelves have gone through multiple rounds of edits and may have had critique partners before the book even got an editor. Not to mention agented authors may have had editing done by their agent and editor(s).

Your book will have mistakes that you won’t notice, but an editor or critique partner will. Fixing those issues means your book is getting better, better than it would have been if the issues hadn’t been pointed out to you. It can be hard to see that when realizing your book still needs work weighs you down. But trust me, in the end your book will shine brighter than it did before. Revising is part of the process and for some, it will be the hardest part.

Now you won’t always agree with all critique or suggestions you receive. You will need to decide what you feel fits your story and feels right. In the end it’s your story and you need to be happy with it. What happens if an editor suggests a change you don’t agree with? Just politely explain why you want to keep something the way it is or why you think a different change would work. Before you say thanks but no thanks, at least think about the suggestions so that you know why you disagree. You really don’t want to be saying no to fixing something important like a plot hole. Disagreements happen, and as long as you are both polite it’s no big deal. Just make sure you know why you disagree, and in a similar vein, don’t just agree to every story change because it’s suggested. Make sure you are thinking over the changes. You need your changes to improve the story, not add more holes or characters acting out of character.

People can read the same story but see it in a different light due to our different experiences and perspectives, and the same applies to editing and writing stories. Give ten writers the first half of a story and you might have the second half going in ten different directions. Different perspectives mean people viewing things differently, which also means differing suggestions and critique. This is also why having multiple critique partners can be valuable. Likewise, editors can have different editing styles. This means as an author you will work better with some editors compared to others. When you find one you work well with, you’ll likely want to stick with that editor as much as possible. Like agents, editor and author fit is important.

How to cope with critique? Well authors all develop their own ways for dealing with this, but I have a few suggestions. If you get an editorial letter, take time to think it over after reading it. If you need something to cheer you up, treat yourself or spend some time doing something to get your mind off editing for a bit. Put yourself in the mindset of improving your story when you come back ready to edit. Don’t see editing changes as you being a bad writer, but as a tool to improve your writing even more. Your weaknesses don’t have to stay weaknesses. You can work on them and make those present weaknesses future strengths.

Writers are always learning and always improving. I often see improvement in the writing of authors I’ve edited from book to book. Each book is more practice and a chance to improve your writing. Like many other careers and hobbies, we have to work hard and practice to improve and get to where we want to be.

So yes, writing critique can be hard to hear, but that same critique will let you know how to improve your book and your writing.

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