Monday, June 16, 2014

Is My Baby Ugly?


Have you ever watched the original auditions for American Idol and thought, “Who told this kid they could sing?” Someone told the kid he was a great singer, patted him on the back, and encouraged him to audition. His family and friends betrayed him with the ultimate lie to protect his feelings. When he appeared on camera before millions singing his heart out, the judges cringed and the audience covered their ears. Now the poor kid is not only embarrassed but is broken hearted because his family lied. So what was worse? The fact that he made a fool of himself on national television or that he no longer trust his family and friends?

The experience of writing a story is similar. Our family and friends love it, but then the first real review comes in and we question how no one caught the mistakes. Or was everyone being nice to the point of harm? This is the real world and not always nice. We send the manuscript to friends for review, but no one makes the hard mark-ups that the writer really needs to hear. Thus rejection letter after rejection letter rolls in and the author is broken hearted.

Yes, this story is my baby, and I love it! Don’t you dare tell me my baby is ugly! That’s how we feel. Yet, if someone would be brave enough to tell us the hard truths, then we would be able to make the story the best it could be. It’s up to the author to take the comments in stride. Make me better instead of bitter.

Every time I send my manuscript to a contest, I get the hard truths pointed out. When I send it to friends, they are all kind. Honestly, I don’t want kind because when my book makes it to publication, the consumer will rate my story and that is where it will hurt the most.

So here it is. What was the hardest comment I’ve received thus far? My hero sounds like a sexual predator. Ouch. However, that comment has been the most valuable to helping me improve my manuscript.

How does your baby look? Do you want the tough questions pointed out before you publish?


Aidee Ladnier said...

Owww! That comment hurt me way over here. But it's definitely something you can change. It's hard to take criticism but it really does make our stories better.

Larynn Ford said...

I read my comments/reviews over and over trying to find the good or make the bad not sound so negative:)

Suzanne Johnson said...

I definitely want the hard truths--my "alpha reader" (who gets the big nasty thing even before my beta readers) pretty much says "this is stupid" or "that doesn't work" and I wouldn't trade her in for anything. She's always afraid I'm going to get mad, but that kind of feedback is invaluable. She's tactful in the way she says it, though, and always explains why she thinks something's not working.

Cari Hislop said...

Maybe there's something wrong with me (probably), but it wouldn't bother me if someone said my hero was a sexual predator - not if part of the story was how he had to change to win the heart of the heroine (I have several "heroes" who are evil bastards - at least that's how they start out - the Prodigal Son - the Rake/wastrel redeemed is one of my favorite story plots).

Is the baby ugly? One can never escape the fact that often the baby is beautiful to some and ordinary or average looking to others. I find this when reading reviews of books I've loved or hated. There's always reviewers who who hated the book I loved or loved the book which made me scream and throw the book in irritation.

Readers are so individual. We value different aspects of story telling. We value different features. I remind myself of this when some readers look over my babies and don't see the same beauty as I do.