Suggestion: Ignore Other Writers’ Attempts to Fix Your Work

19 Jun

People who know my work tend to expect dark subject matter, but horror isn’t usually my thing. I think, though, that when the story offers itself to you, you’d be foolish to turn it down.

My horror novella needs a fairly significant rewrite. There’s a problem with the structure that requires more than a bit of cutting and pasting. Fortunately, I have a talented reading partner who gave me some direction in making the changes. Some direction, but not too much.

Although I almost always seek feedback from my critique partners and from smart readers, I don’t see fiction writing as a collaborative process (though I’m not opposed to doing a planned collaborative fiction project). I take all the feedback seriously, because I’ve known and worked with these writers for a long time. That doesn’t mean I make every change they suggest, but that I give serious consideration to their opinions. And if  two or more of them are in agreement on a point, I pay extra attention.

I appreciate constructive criticism, but in general, I don’t want to be told how to fix things. Figuring out how to make the story better, more coherent, more engaging, or more lyrical, is one of the things I most enjoy about this art form. I look at it as an opportunity to challenge myself and become a stronger writer, and frankly it’s just plain fun.

If you’re ever overwhelmed by the responses of your workshop, writing group, critique partners, or beta readers, consider ignoring their suggestions. Perhaps you can politely ask them to point out bumps and holes in your work without advising you on how to smooth or fill them. You may be surprised by how quickly you grow as a writer without all that noise in your head.

Go write something!




Posted by on June 19, 2011 in Fiction, Writing


2 responses to “Suggestion: Ignore Other Writers’ Attempts to Fix Your Work

  1. Marcia Colette

    July 7, 2011 at 12:40 pm

    I love this post. My old critique group was the best. They pointed out the rough spots and said why it didn’t work for them without trying to tell me how to fix it. I appreciated that more because it allowed me to stretch my own imagination and go deeper where I needed to be with my story. They taught me how to write without doing the homework for me.

    • Candice L Davis

      July 21, 2011 at 9:03 pm

      Sounds like you had great luck in finding an outstanding critique group–a rare find.


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