Tuesday, 21 January 2014

An External Eye or I'd Like to Thank...

I know my story inside and out. Every writer does, don't they? Getting the 'inside' out onto the page, however, don't always happen. Not straight away. It's so easy to read between the lines, to see what isn't actually there because the picture of the story in your head is so vivid. What's needed is an external eye, a critique partner, an impartial other. All well and good, all very helpful, all very necessary, but the timing has to be right.

If you let someone see your story too soon, before it's ready, they will not share your vision. Their feedback can dilute your idea, send you down the wrong path, because your story is still too fragile. Even if you stick to your original vision, you run the risk of becoming downhearted and doubtful. So wait. Hang on. Don't show anyone anything until it's clear in your head, until the inside is out.

Then go for it. In fact, it's your duty to ask for feedback. Your story needs it! You think your character's motivation is crystal clear? Think again. YOU know why she does what she does, but does your reader? Are you sure? You think your description is spot on, but have you overdone it? Is it in your voice or that of your protagonist? (Thank you, Miriam Halahmy for that one!) Is your plot as tight as it could be? Have you tied up all those loose ends? Does is even make sense?

I truly believe that a writer can only go so far on their own. You can edit, revise, re-write to your heart's content, but there will always be something you've missed. Find a good Beta Reader; someone you trust, someone who reads and reads, even if they don't write, and beg them to critique your work. You'll be amazed at the obvious things they find, tiny things that will make a huge difference, things that you should have noticed but didn't.

So thank you to everyone who has pointed out plot flaws and inconsistencies, stilted dialogue, wooden characters. My story is, and will be, a much better thing for all your advice. Critiquers of the World – I salute you!

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