Wednesday, September 12, 2012

When to Disregard a Comment

As I’ve been working with critique partners for the past few months, the one thing that’s always come up is when to heed or ignore a comment given about your work. Luckily, with this last project, I haven’t had many comments that I disagreed with. However, in the past I’ve had some feedback that nearly blew me off my feet.

From rude, to ignorant, to right out of left field—like they’d been reading someone else’s book and confused it with mine. These types of comments are easy to flush away, even though they often stick with you.

It’s the ones that are kind and thoughtful and full of respect for your work that make you bite your nails to the quick trying to decide if you should follow it or disregard.

I recently had a comment that had all the makings of a stress induced ulcer, but somehow it didn’t:

My wonderful crit partner, Abby suggested that I delete an entire chapter! What?! Oh no she di’nt! LOL. Now, being on both ends of that type of suggestion, having given similar advice to a crit partner of mine and having been given that advice by Abby, I know she did not offer that advice lightly. To be honest, I only read the first line of her long comment—which went something like this: Please don’t take this the wrong way, but I don’t think this chapter is needed.

I stopped reading there. Not because I was angry or heartbroken that she didn’t love every last inch of my novel. I stopped to think. I ran through that chapter in my mind and although there were some sweet moments with the male lead and his mother, the chapter didn’t add much to the story. Not only that, but it took away tension from the female lead and from the big reveal at the end. It took about 30 seconds to realize the chapter needed to go. I went back and read Abby’s full comment and her insight made it all the more clear that the chapter should go. I don’t regret cutting it.

I know that isn’t always the way it goes with comments given about your work. Some people are WAY off the mark. Sometimes you just can’t or don’t want to see the flaws being pointed out to you. And sometimes, you just have to go with your gut.

How do you all do it? Are you a gutster, letting that gut reaction to suggestions be your guide on whether you yay or nay it? Do you gather up other opinions and then let the majority rule? Or do you take all suggestions thrown at you like a giant magnet? :-)

5 comments:

Tamara said...

I used to be a giant magnet. haha. Then I got some crazy comments (from those people you were speaking of earlier, the ones reading a different story other than mine) haha. That's when I realized I couldn't take every comment to heart.

Mostly, I go with my gut, but I'm a lot more likely to really give a comment some weight if it's coming from someone I really trust/have been working with for awhile, as opposed to someone I dont' know very well.

Karen Denise said...

Hey Tam,

Yeah I think we all start out as a bit of a magnet, but then we realize we'll go crazy if we view every comment as if it were dipped in gold-lol.

Jai Joshi said...

I love to listen to all comments and critiques of my work. When it comes to following advice I listen to my gut. If my instincts tell me that someone's suggestion makes sense then I listen. If my instincts say no then I disregard. It's worked for me over the years.

Jai

Abby Annis said...

Four years late... ;)

I'm glad you agreed with that suggestion. It was the one I was most worried about when I sent it to you. And glad I could help your story get a little shinier. You've helped a ton with mine. :)

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