When Criticism Doesn’t Cut It…Or Does It?

When Criticism Doesn’t Cut It…Or Does It Guest post by D.A. Reed

When Criticism Doesn’t Cut It…Or Does It?

Guest post by D.A. Reed

In regard to writing, I vividly remember one month that was particularly hard for me.

There is a fine line that writers walk. The adage that we need to write for ourselves is very true—our works are, first and foremost, for ourselves. A purging of our souls, if you will. However, what do you do when your editors look at you and want massive rewrites on the story you have just spent hours on, bled over, and lost sleep over?

When do we take the advice and (constructive) criticism and when do we say—"This is my story, and this is how it will stay?" It's hard to hear someone tear apart your "baby." Here is my advice:

1. Find someone you trust to read your work. Someone who will analyze your work for good storytelling (if you are a fiction writer), not on the basis of whether or not they like the story. Something may not be an editor's cup of tea, so to speak, but they can still tell if it is good storytelling or not and be objective.

2. If more than one person is coming back saying the same thing—having the same constructive comments—then listen. As hard as it may be, listen. If multiple people are saying the same thing, there is a reason.

3. If there is only one person who has made a criticism and you aren't sure about it, make the decision to either take their advice to heart or discard it. You have that right. It is your story, not theirs.

4. My rule of thumb: If the constructive criticism changes the core of what you are trying to do, if it changes the story you are trying to tell, it is probably okay to disregard the comment and move on.

Recently, I had the hardest review yet from my editors. It left me in tears, ready to shelve the story and never look back. I licked my wounds for three days. Then I decided I wasn't going to take the easy way out.

I sat down and did the most massive rewrites I have ever done on a novel before. But—I sifted through the criticism given and changed what I believed would make it a stronger story. There were comments given that would have changed the entire tone of the story and what I was trying to convey—those I gently set aside in order keep the story mine and no one else's.

A dear friend told me something recently that I cling to as I continue pursuing this thing I love called writing: Not everyone will like your story—and that's okay.

It's really okay. Not everyone likes the same foods, the same movies, and not everyone likes the same books. And that's okay. Not everyone will like what you have written, but likewise, you will not like everything you read. We all have different tastes and things we enjoy. So, if someone comes up to you and says, "I didn't like it," smile and say, "That's okay."

That line we walk is very fine, but it is ours to master and mold.


When Criticism Doesn’t Cut It…Or Does It Guest post by D.A. Reed

D.A. Reed (Deborah Reed) writes young adult novels—from page-turning thrillers to stories based on challenges children and adults face every day.

Her stories have garnered the attention of readers and fellow authors alike. Since 2016, author Johnathan Rand has invited her to be a writing instructor at his Author Quest writing camp for young writers. She was also asked to present at several writer and educator conferences including the North of 45 Retreat for Writers, Delta Kappa Gamma Women’s Educator Conference, regional district libraries, and writing workshops in several local school classrooms. Deborah’s international travels include leading creative writing workshops to children—most notably at the Sharjah International Book Fair in United Arab Emirates (UAE).

D.A. Reed’s books have received acclaim, notably: Nothin’ But Gutters And Pocket Change from the Best Indie Book Awards (BIBA) in the category of Young Adult Drama; and Dare Accepted from the Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards in the category of Young Adult Fiction.

Deborah lives with her husband and family in Grand Rapids, Michigan.


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