Criticism, especially for debut novelists, is hard to take. Here are some tips from Kathleen Jones, The Quirky Novelist, that may help!
Criticism, especially for debut novelists, is hard to take. Unlike non-fiction, novels and short stories tend to be personal creations, often based on the writer’s experiences; unsurprisingly, any criticism aimed at them can feel like a personal attack.
But criticism from editors is often meant to be constructive; the editor is trying to help the author improve her or his writing. However, not all criticism is worth paying attention to.
When is criticism from editors helpful?
Criticism from editors is helpful when the editor’s suggestions: improve the flow of the writing; clear up inconsistencies in plots and characters; fix timelines that don’t make sense; add depth to the characters and the relationships between them. It’s also wise to consider similar comments from more than one editor.
When is criticism from editors less than helpful?
In some cases, criticism from editors is subjective; in other words, your book doesn’t fit the editor’s personal taste. This type of feedback might not be worth taking to heart. Examples of subjective criticism include the following: the editor doesn’t like or understand your main characters; the editor makes vague comments (e.g., “I’m not feeling it”); you hired a freelance substantive and/or line editor to pre-edit your manuscript, and the editor doesn’t agree with the freelance editor’s ideas and choices.
The bottom line
Any changes you make to your book that are based on an editor’s feedback should improve it. Following the wrong advice, especially from an editor who doesn’t “get” or “like” your book could end up hurting your book. It pays to know the difference.
Photo credit: just.Luc, “Stricken with Self-doubt” via photopin (license)