The above is one of my favorite writing quotes. I have many favorite writing quotes, but that is a really good one. Because it speaks to the nature of the beast of writing. The first draft is all about getting the story out of our heads before we go mad and putting it to paper so that we can destroy it, revive it, and make it beautiful. The path to that beauty, though, can be a difficult one.
“Write your first draft with your heart. Edit it with your checkbook and a red pen.”
“Critiques are a necessary evil...but they don't have to be evil.” -Tweet This
So don’t take it that way. If you’ve picked good reviewers then they’re not picking at your manuscript to be mean. Step back, remember that you asked them to do this and then ask yourself: are they right?
2. Be Confident.
Just because someone made a suggestion or asked a question doesn’t mean your story isn’t any good. If you honestly believe you’ve got something worthwhile on your hands you need to have the courage to stand by it and work out it’s flaws.
3. Make a Choice.
Not every suggestion is a good one. Not every correction is actually a mistake. Weigh your readers comments against your own knowledge of your voice and character. I tend to use a lot of fragment sentences in my prose. I will often get the note to change them to complete sentences and I must ask myself; is this change merited, or does it serve the voice of my writing? That is a choice only you, no editor, can make.
4. Three People Rule
Your piece should go through several rounds of editing. A good general rule is, if three or more people make the same suggestion, as the same question, or come to the same wrong conclusion, then you have made a mistake. And you have some changes to make.
5. Don’t Defend it.
This is a huge one for working with a critique group in person. Your work must stand for itself. You aren’t going to be at the elbow of every reader, tapping them on the shoulder so you can explain what you meant to say. Don’t argue with the reader if they find something confusing, off-putting or just plain boring. If that was your intent, then you're golden. If it wasn’t, then you have some rewriting to do.
Be sure to check out my instagram page (emilywritesbooks) for daily micro fiction for your reading enjoyment, the occasional writing prompt or quote and subscribe to my email list to get a monthly newsletter with tips and tricks of the Indie Writer Trade. Next months’ topic: How to Create Interesting Background Characters.