Reader Critiques

While I’m waiting to hear back for my critique I submitted to the literary agent, I’ve emailed some friends to read my manuscript. On the one hand, this is a great idea to get some needed feedback on the story. On the other hand, it opens up to experiencing some serious confusion about your story.

I have given my manuscript to four friends of mine. Every one of them reads young adult novels. Their tastes range but they were kind enough to show interest in my novel and requested to read it when I finally finished it.

The general consensus I have received is it’s good. They were excited to read it and are still excited to be reading it. However, I have run into a bit of a dilemma. One of my friends does not agree with the rest of them. Mind you, they aren’t giving their opinions in the same thread. They are giving me their opinions individually unbeknownst what the other people are saying about the book.

Here are two examples.

Two of my friends think I write action scenes really well. My other friend doesn’t think the action scene is smooth; it feels choppy to her. I then had my fiancé read it to see what he thought because I was all confused about this and what the hell do I do about this, yadda, yadda, yadda. He read it and told me he didn’t think anything was wrong with it. He didn’t think it was choppy, he thought it was written well. He chalked it up to a difference of opinion/personal desire for what the reader (i.e. my friends) want out of their novels.

The second example is my two friends like the interactions with the characters. It flows and feels mature. My other friend thinks the interactions are stiff.

I have yet to receive any input from my fourth friend. I’m not sure if she has even begun reading it yet. She typically listens to audio books because the car is really the only free time she has to “read” a book. So I’m not sure if she’ll actually get around to it.

As you can see, I’m experiencing difference of opinions regarding my manuscript. Normally, I go with majority votes. It’s the most logical answer. At the same time, I do heavily value her opinion. Am I supposed to disregard what she says when it comes to opinions?

I am driving myself into insanity here. Obviously I enjoy praise but receiving blind praise just makes me feel foolish so I don’t want that. And I don’t believe my other friends are blindly praising me because they have offered critiques. They were specific critiques such as “In scene Y I didn’t understand why this was happening. Why is she ranked so high if the General wants her to fail?” That was extremely helpful. I knew where the problem was and how I needed to fix it.

Perhaps I can’t accept critiques via text, Snapchat because there’s no real depth to the critique. It’s so vague like “The action felt choppy.” Why? Why and where did it feel choppy? But also, why does literally no one else feel that way?  Why is it only just you?

I understand you can’t please every reader. It’s impossible. But she was there when I first started out writing. She read all my fanfiction. Even when I wrote about characters she didn’t really fancy. And she always praised me for my stories. She loved them. But as we grew up and into our own person, our tastes started to divert. She preferred S&M, M/M, F/F, dark and gritty, explicitly graphic violence, etc. That is perfectly okay with me. She can totally be into that kind of stuff. But I’m starting to realize that’s why I don’t have her read my stuff anymore. Because what I write isn’t the type of stuff she wants to be reading. My version of “dark and gritty” when I write is never descriptive. Watching that scene in Black Swan where she peels back her skin on her finger had my gagging and closing my eyes. Could you imagine reading that scene? NOPE!  I don’t like reading or writing that kind of stuff and she does.

So I guess… take some weight in what she says but not all of it? Because it is a clear difference of opinion? I suppose that’s the best I can do, right? Regardless of my end opinion on this matter, I’m going crazy while I wait to hear back on the critique I submitted. I need all the patience I can get!

As always, thanks for reading and thank you for the support. ❤

Alessandra

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