The time to begin writing an article is when you have finished it to your satisfaction. By that time you begin to clearly and logically perceive what it is you really want to say. ~Mark Twain
I think it took me at least four edits to get anywhere close to where I want to be with my first chapter. Something that definitely helped me to get there has been critique. The good, the bad and the ugly (though the latter -fortunately- never happened.)
I have to admit, I suck at taking negative feedback. I totally take it with Isaac Asimov here saying that on getting negative feedback, writers either weep copiously and openly or they weep copiously and secretly. I guess I do both, depending on the situation. However, I also learned to deal with it. It hasn’t been that long since I received my first critique on the prologue and first chapter of my initial Nano-draft and man…well, let’s just say I didn’t take it really well. It took me a while to get over it, having lots of those “I should shred my writing for the sheer good of humankind” moments, but then again I got my shit together and just sat down and went through what people had told me.
Sure, critiques can be pretty ambiguous sometimes. You may have three people telling you your introduction is too long, while just as many tell you it’s too short and the rest says it’s just fine. Most of the time your critters are agreeing on certain points though and when they keep criticizing the same thing over and over again, well then you know you have a problem there.
For me it was long sentences. A villain that was nothing but an utter douchebag (it makes me cringe just thinking about it). A confusing story line that gets the reader lost between present and flashbacks. Missused words and did I mention the ultimate run-on sentence batman? Seriously, the list could go on and on and honestly a lot of that have been things I’ve noticed myself. Some things were more apparent than others, but in the end even I can see sense when it smacks me in the face and so I took a few months off writing to figure out what was wrong with what I had written so far and what I need to do to change that.
I guess anyone who’s been working on a writing project for a couple of years like I did with Light agrees with me that two years can be a long time. In this time, I’ve read something between 80 and 100 books, I’ve immigrated into the USA, I’ve attended university, I’ve started to work full time. English has become my primary language. But most of all I’ve learned. I’ve learned a lot, but that’s just how life goes. You make different experiences that change you and as far as I can see it definitely changes your writing with it.
For myself, I’d say I’ve become a much more critical person and I’ve learned to deal with critique in a productive way (and I’ve awesome critters of awesome 😀 ) Even though I’m still not 100% happy with some parts of my writing, I keep working on improving that and have definitely become much more appreciative of feedback all around.
Thanks a lot to everyone who was and is still willing to help me out there. You’re awesome 😀
P.S. Anyone interested in reading the revised chapters. They are password-protected on my blog (yay for internet-backup). If you want to read them, just drop me a line at stephanie.floch[at]gmail[dot]com and I’ll get you the password 8)