Constructive Criticism

Posted by imthewritegirl on May 13, 2017 in advice, Editing, Writing |


The Writegirl


So, you’ve written your first novel, and you’re about to send it out into the world. You’ve constructed each word lovingly, wrapped them with tender loving care, and made sure each one flowed seamlessly into the next. Then you hand it over to your editor, convinced the only comments will be:

  • Brilliant!
  • Wouldn’t change a thing.
  • Perfect.
  • The best novel I’ve ever read.

What you actually get back is a bunch of red. Lots and lots of red, with comments like:

  • Needs more conflict.
  • Not sure what you’re trying to say here.
  • Why is Sally all of a sudden shy?
  • This scene isn’t needed.

What is your first reaction? Do you yell at the screen, “HOW DARE YOU UNDERMINE MY BRILLIANCE AND ARTISTRY!”?


man in glasses-computer-exclamation points


Well, that’s fine. Get it out. Take a few deep breaths.Walk it off.


woman meditating sunset


There. That’s better, right?

Now go back and take a look at the notes with a fresh eye.

Would more conflict make it better?

Did you write a scene knowing certain facts in your head that never made it on to the page?

Did you make Sally respond in a certain way that was plot and not character-driven?

Is that scene you love so much not needed and expressed better in the next one?

Though your novel may be quite personal, you need to look at it with a critical eye. Even if you disagree with the editor’s notes, try reworking the scene. You may realize how much better it could be. Or perhaps you wind up combining the two¬†and give the scene more layers and the emotional wallop you’d been intending all along.

The point is to always be willing to look at your work from another angle. It could mean the difference between an agent or publisher wanting to see more or throwing it on the slush pile.



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