Accepting criticism is hard, no matter who you. As a writer, it's been difficult for me to put my "baby" out there for others to see. Lately, I've had to learn to suck in my pride and accept help from others. It hasn't been easy, but it's been worth it.
My crit group, Writers in Paradise, has been supportive and helpful throughout my first draft. But I knew I needed additional help. A couple of months ago, I stumbled across Miss Snark's First Victim, a blog that has random contests where writers can anonymously place parts of their writing for others to view and comment. Excited for a new opportunity, I submitted an excerpt of of my manuscript in the Talkin' Heads contest.
Then the comments began. Fourteen people wrote essentially the same criticism over and over again: my characters sounded stiff and unnatural. Although I was frustrated, I didn't give up. I went back to my manuscript and started reworking all of the dialogue to make it sound more authentic (more like teenagers were speaking).
I decided to try again. This time I entered the blog's Secret Agent contest that examines the first 250 words of a manuscript to see if it "hooks" the reader. When I entered the contest, I knew that my beginning needed work. And I was right. Some liked it, but others thought it was "unremarkable." So I went back to my manuscript -- again -- and reworked the beginning. In fact, I changed my beginning so much that now it's in the present tense instead of the past tense.
The biggest lesson I've learned is that I need to stay humble and be willing to accept criticism. Revision is a long and challenging process, but it's necessary. After each new revision, I feel like my manuscript is stronger and better than before. I can't wait until I learn more at the two workshops I'm attending in April/May and June. After those workshops, I hope to be one step closer to sending my manuscript off to an agent.
In the meantime, I've started my second manuscript. It's a long, hard road as a writer, but I'm loving it!
2 days ago