So there comes a time when you’re working on something, and you need feedback. When you’re in the fanfiction type realm, you can get this pretty easily, because you’re writing for others in your fandom and get nearly immediate feedback. It can be addicting.
Writing an original work of fiction – be it a book or whatever – is a lot like writing in a silo, because you’re working on a subject and with characters that are speaking to you and only you. They are not a shared experience, and how you see your characters and describe them is totally different than someone else may see them. That is the most apparent in the unpublished status, because the characters have only developed in your head, and exist only on your page.
It’s important to get feedback on your writing, both from friends that know and are used to your style, and from strangers as well. The friends will give you the feedback that you’re used to getting, and if they’re good friends, will give you the constructive criticism that you are also looking for.
The strangers? That can be a crapshoot.
For instance, I’ve had exactly three strangers read over the first two chapters of the first book in the Migration series. One of them has been honest, saying what did work, what didn’t work, and what needed to be tweaked. She just happens to now also be the person that I’m having edit the book; she brought to the table a level of trust with her comments and critiques that I asked to work with her and she accepted.
The second person absolutely hated the book. Well, not just the book, but every single thing about it. They even hated the title.
The third person got back to me today, and they had some really good constructive criticism about the book, even though they said that they didn’t like it. There were specific examples given, and indeed, those are things that I struggled with in the book in it’s pre-edited form. But there were things that I absolutely didn’t agree with – but that’s because I know the characters well, and can defend them saying X or doing Y, when there is explanation beyond that first couple of chapters.
In all, it can be pretty disheartening when you get feedback about something you love. I mean it’s good to get the right feedback; we shouldn’t all end up dittoheads, automatically liking everything exactly the same. But at the same time, you have to learn – or better to say I have to learn – to stay positive about the situation. Because in the end, even if nobody else likes what I’ve written, even after it’s been massaged and gussied up, I will still like it.