So today I am going to discuss two of the hardest things about writing anything. The second, yes I like to do things out-of-order, is re-writes. You have worked on your story and have what you consider a brilliant piece of writing. So what to do next is take it apart and completely change it. This leads us, in my opinion, to the hardest thing about writing. Because in order to do re-writes you must have feedback. The dreaded constructive criticism.
Let me explain for anyone who has not had to provide me with criticism how my process works. You read something I wrote and give it the full weight or your attention. You carefully consider exactly what your reaction is and how you think I can make the writing better. You write-up clear and concise notes for me to work from. I receive your notes, avoid them for a day or two and once I get to reading them I refer to you in terms that would make a sailor blush. I call you names, I call your mother names, I scream about how stupid you are and everyone you have ever met in your entire life. I storm off in a huff vowing to never speak to you again.
The next day I sit down and look at your notes again, from experience about sixty to eighty percent will be good notes that help me refine what I have written. The other twenty to forty percent will be notes that show you didn’t understand what I was saying. I my opinion the twenty to forty percent are the more important notes. Everybody will have different like and dislike in the way a story is written. On this novel alone I have been told by two different first readers, both of whom I respect, that one I should include more descriptions of the places and people, setting the scene more. The other told me they loved the fact that I was focused on the relationships between the characters and not where they were. But the notes that show me you did not get what I was trying to convey with the writing are the ones that I want to focus on the most. I don’t care if all of my readers agree with me, but I am not doing my job if the majority of my readers do not understand what I am saying.
Bringing this back to my work. Last night my friend and fellow traveler Lauren who is one of my first readers gave me back the fully noted copy of my manuscript. At one hundred forty pages with an estimated five notes average per page. So I have about seven hundred notes to go through. At this point I am staring at the pages and trying to ignore it like an elephant in the room. Some time tomorrow I will go through the notes and get really pissed off. By middle of this week I will go back through them and figure out which category each note falls into, and then by this time next week I will be ready to sit back with Lauren and go over all the notes over a few drinks.