Monday, July 14, 2014

The Truth? Can You Handle the Truth? By Linda S. Glaz

            I like to read through reviews of my books in order to be a better writer. I told myself that all along until I got the first review that really hurt. Did I really want the truth?
Author rushed a couple scenes that didn’t allow me to connect well with the characters. I paraphrased this, I think she actually said it a bit kinder, but the words still stung.
Rushed scenes? And then it hit me, Jack Nicholson was right, I couldn’t handle the truth.
First, I merely dropped my head against my palm and heaved a huge sigh. Rushed scenes. That meant it was confusing to the reader, right? I lost her. For how long? Did she put the book down and walk away trying to decide whether or not to even finish it?
Then I just denied her words. Walked away, didn’t look back. Pretended I hadn’t read the review. Reread all of the good ones.
Until the next morning when I pulled out the book and started to read through it as a reader this time, not as an author. And you know what? I rushed a few of the scenes. I wanted so desperately to have filled the pages with exciting suspense that I forgot to keep the impetus on the main characters. I had broken my promise to the reader to keep the romance in the forefront. I let her down, made her question whether or not she should have spent her hard-earned money on a story that had a promise attached to it.
My best review ever. Worst rating—best review. Because she taught me something valuable as an author. Never let down the group you are writing for, no matter how much you want to break away a bit from the formula. If you are writing for a group that you know has specific expectations, you must not give them something too different.
I learned more from that review than from all the five-star ratings I’ve received. I appreciate the reader’s honesty and am grateful that she was willing to put it all out there to help this author remember just who she’s writing for.
Did I handle it? I finally did. And am so indebted to that honest reviewer.


Courtney Phillips said...

I'm not yet published, but I've experienced this with my critique partners. The critiques sometimes hurt, and I had to let them simmer for a few days. But ultimately my story is now refined, partly because of my partners. I'm forever grateful for how they've helped me develop more writing skills.
Very honest and wise post.

Diana Flegal said...

Linda, great post. Learning from your reviews is a valuable thing in a situation like this. I haven't read this book- yet :-)but I have felt the same way when reading other stories. And it is always my hope the author will not repeat the mistake. Now you know. And you will have your reader in mind next time.

Diana Flegal said...

better in mind next time :-)

Linda Glaz said...

Believe me, as embarrassing as some things are to admit to my clients, anything I tell them, I have usually learned the hard way. And the learning never stops. Anyone who thinks they have 'arrived' are just kidding themselves. We learn until the day we die or we die way ahead of schedule. Just going through the motions.

Rick Barry said...

Seems to me that most writers secretly hope for glowing praise whenever they ask someone to read their material. What comes back may not be praise, but it just might be what we need to hear.

My modest accomplishment of 2 published novels and a couple hundred published short stories and articles probably indicate I'm not a total newbie at writing. Yet, I can never view my own words as objectively as a reader seeing them for the first time. Those objective suggestions can sting. They can cause our cheeks to grow red that we committed newbie-type transgressions. But the truth is good for us. If readers praise our words simply to avoid hurting our feelings, then they really don't help us at all.

Linda Glaz said...

Amen, while kind words sound good to our hearts, we need wisdom to fill our heads! Thanks, Rick.

Diana Flegal said...

'Til the day we die is right. :-)

Anonymous said...

Linda, I love your gracious attitude and good example to those of us who are new to the whole critique experience.

You recently gave me some super duper advice via your blog about POV and I just want to say thank you so much. It's amazing how much there is to learn--but learn I will.

Blessings ~ Wendy ❀