Monday, September 27, 2010

How Many Opinions Are Too Many?

One of my crit partners said something to me the other day that really struck home. We were discussing critiquing and how much our manuscripts tend to change (sometimes very drastically) according to the opinions of our CP’s.

She told of an author she knew who was working on edits with her agent. That author sent her revised manuscript to several CP’s, only to end up revising more before sending the manuscript back to the agent. When it finally arrived in the agent’s inbox, the agent was disappointed because the author had changed so much that the book had lost the all-important voice. And the voice was the thing the agent loved the most about the book.

So I wonder. How many opinions are too many? How many times do you revise before you end up sucking the voice out of your manuscript? Or, if you’re not a writer, how much criticism on your creative endeavors will you accept before you lose the drive to create entirely?

I don’t think there’s a solid answer to this question, but I do think we know when we reach that point. Or at least, we should.

Having critique partners is a blessing, for sure. But as in all things, too much of a good thing can hurt you. It’s a fine line to walk. And I think comes down to us having the courage and confidence to know the difference between comments that make us better, and comments that turn our work into something we never meant for it to be.

Just something to think about.

7 comments:

Quinn said...

I agree. We do need to have the confidence and courage to be able to tell the difference. Well said!

Sara B. Larson said...

Interesting point. I do agree that you can get too many opinions. The trick is to only follow the edits that you know are right. Don't change things just because someone said so, if you really feel like it's wrong. Not HARD but Wrong. There is a difference.

WindyA said...

Imo, the thing to remember is that whatever it is you're writing, it is YOUR story. Everyone will have a perspective on your story, but in the end, what matters is what you choose to do with the thoughts your given to make YOUR story better.

Angela said...

Love this post. Yes, it's true--taking criticism well is important. But discerning between what's helpful and what's not can be so hard. And sometimes, after months and months of changing things again and again, I personally, start to forget who I am, what my voice looks like, etc . . .

Something I need to work on. Thank you.

Carolyn V. said...

I agree. You can have too many trying to fix your ms. I'm trying to cut down on how many opinions I get just because of that. But it's hard.

Jenn Wilks said...

Thanks for giving me something to think about. When I first started getting critiqued, I changed everything my critters suggested even if I didn't really agree, but I've since learned to take what feels right to me and leave the rest. Still a fine line, though, and I hope I don't cross it too much!

C. K. Bryant said...

Thanks Nichole. I think I'm at this point in one of my books. If I change it anymore, I'll suck the life right out of it.