Revising my MS

Welcome to the Seventh Layer of Hell

Nothing is worse than getting what you want. The Monkey Paw was the most truthful piece of literature ever written. I got exactly what I wanted: feedback on my novel. Lots of passionate, opinionated, feedback. Pages of notes. Everything from summary commentary to little bitty “don’t like this word,” kind of feedback. It was everything I’ve been begging for. Hooray, I finally got some feedback.
Perfectly contradictory feedback.

Examples:
1. Too much setting and description, get to the action sooner
Vs.
2. I need more description.

3. Your beginning is a mess
Vs.
4. I loved the beginning.

5. Your revised version is perfect.
Vs.
6. Who’s telling you to change things? The original was so much better.

Ready to bash my head against the table. I’ve probably completely rewritten the first chapter of my book 20 times, started it with three different scenes. I’ve lost count of the number of tiny tweaks. Rearranging sentences. Changing out words for stronger ones, wondering if I’ve now made it too epic for what is not really a life or death situation.

Advice: Grab the reader, make it dramatic.
Vs.
Piss them off when they realize they’re been duped.

Since this is a personal pet peeve, I decided to dial it back a notch.

Advice: Establish normal.
Vs.
Normal is boring, get to the action sooner.

At a complete loss here. The opening scene is the inciting incident. Writing the events before will make a long exposition, even longer. Since my book is already pushing the upper limit on length, I really don’t want to add another scene to the beginning. So now I’m trying to figure out how to establish that what is happening is unusual without resorting to a ton of telling. The results are mixed. As a result the opening page exists in three different forms. Right now they are blurred together. Maybe I need to take a step back and try again. [sigh]

I think I have the other things on the checklist: MC, setting, etc. all except the last one: make the reader care.

How the hell do you do that? This is where the problem of subjectivity comes in. Everyone will care about different things. For some people they will think my whiny, somewhat spoiled, MC gets exactly what she deserved and close the book. Others will connect with a young woman’s struggle to prove herself against crushing expectations. This is the most difficult element to master, the one that will make the difference between the editor’s desk and the slush pile.

And its not there yet.

Trying again.

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2 thoughts on “Revising my MS

  1. Feedback is one of the most difficult things to give and receive. And EVERYONE has a different opinion. I too have gone down the wrong path with my story because of feedback that wasn’t right for me. The only advice I can give is know the purpose of your story and study writing craft, because then at least you’ll know why you’re making those choices in your novel. And find people who give objective critique and not subjective critique. Some examples of that here: http://writeonsisters.com/writing-craft/not-all-feedback-is-created-equal/

    Hope that helps.

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