The writing process can be a very daunting experience. Some writers will be blinded by the bright overbearing blank pages that are waiting to be filled with a string of seemingly common words woven into something profound and meaningful, while other writers wear goggles as they fill pages and pages of content, most of the time all rubbish. But like everything in life, you need to find the happy medium and be willing to make changes in your work. Adaptability means survival.
Recently, a new manuscript idea came to me and I got really excited and scribbled everything about it in my notebook. Upon returning home, I began compiling a complete series outline before starting to write (something I promised myself I would do from now on). I hadn’t thought about the smaller details of the book and as I wrote my outline I began filling them in where I could. What I ended up with was a goldmine! Or so I thought … I was wearing googly goggles. And I didn’t realize it until I went to my family and pitched the idea to them.
First, I pitched the story to my older sister (27 years old). She had questions but was overall interested in the concept and said it was an original idea that she would like to read. I could’ve stopped there, because validation is the only feedback you want to hear. WRONG, writers keep fishing! So, I went to my mother (55 years old) and I pitched the same story to her. However, she said that even though the idea was unique, it wasn’t grabbing her attention. I can argue that it’s because of her age difference, as this book is a young adult book, however she also read my first fantasy romance young adult novel and said it was very interesting, so it’s not really a valid argument. Then finally, I asked my little sister what she thought (19 years old). She’s the closest to my reading audience, so in a way, her opinion matters the most in this situation. She agreed that the idea was interesting, but admitted that it was a bit confusing for her to understand.
One approval. One denial. And one wishy-washy interest. Something was definitely wrong. For a pitch, I need three unquestionable approvals. So, I took a second look at the outline I had written and realized that each of them was right to a certain extent and that I needed to do some heavy duty revising, even if it meant scrapping chunks of my concepts. So this is what I observed:
First, the premise of the story is strong and original and I need to work out a few details, but they’re minor.
Second, I need to develop a more gripping pitch summary. This is really important since I’m planning on pitching this manuscript idea to two agents at a writing conference I’ll be attending in October.
Third, the series is in desperate need of some simplifying. Sometimes, more is not always more, less is. I realized that just because I make a story more complicated by adding more twists and turns, it doesn’t make it any more interesting; it actually takes away from the main idea because it gets lost under all that gunk, no matter how glittery and shiny said gunk may be.
As a writer, whether creative or academic you must be open to constructive criticism. Most of the time you’re so enraptured by your creation that you turn a blind eye to major problems that others see. So you need to ask a variety of people, revise, then ask again, revise, ask, revise, ask, and repeat until the answers are somewhat in the same ball park. Remember, you won’t be able to please everyone, but you shouldn’t be aiming for that as a writer–your job is to write something that remains true to yourself that hopefully others will enjoy as well.