Monday, May 6, 2013

Our Stories--Our Visions

Happy Monday!

If you're a writer, you are more than likely in a critique group or exchanging work with another writer.
And if you're not...
But that's another topic...

Anyhew, one subject that comes up in my critique group every once in a while is story boundaries—not because we have problems with writers crossing them, but because it's good to talk about these things and be aware of them so there are not future problems.

As writers we all feel and see stories differently.
© Roman Milert | Dreamstime Stock Photos

One of the reasons I started writing was because I started to rewrite in my head different scenes and endings to books I'd been reading. Well, it's one thing to do it your head, but a whole other issue when you start to apply those changes to other people's writing in real life.

For ex. A friend of mine went to an author discussion recently where everyone shared chapters and people could comment on the general feel of what the writers were working on. One woman there happen to go on about what she thought should be the focus of this one particular author's story—what the plot should be and what, in her opinion, would make it a great book.

Finally, after hearing that person out, the author looked the woman in the eye and said, "Hey, that's a great book for you to write, because that's NOT the book I'm writing."
Huh. Something to think about.

It's a fine line to walk. As a writer, I don't want any of my critique partners to hold back their doubts or feelings on a book, but ultimately I do decide what fits with the vision I have and sometimes we don't agree. And that's okay.

I'm glad my friend shared that story because it's a fantastic *reminder* to take to heart and here is what she learned from it:
"We can offer each other guidance and suggestion on plot points, pacing, character traits and even sentence structure, but ultimately the HEART of the story remains with the author and how she sees HER story."
I love that. And now I'm looking at my own critiques with new eyes. :) 


Have you ever felt a disconnection in your story vision with one of your critique partner's?
Are you guilty of rewriting sentences for your partner? Do you care if that happens to you?


Julie Jarnagin said...

I'm guilty, but I'm trying really hard to be aware of it now. When I do it, it comes from a good place. I just get excited about someone else's story, and my brain starts spinning. But I'm more aware of it lately and I try not to change author voice or the foundation of the story.

Old Kitty said...

Giving and getting advice are such skills - I'm still working on!! LOL!! I tend to take advice at face value and follow all the suggestions to the point where I don't know my own story anymore! LOL! And I always wimp out at giving advice as I don't feel qualified enough to do so! LOL!

Take care

Dianne K. Salerni said...

I do admit feeling disappointment with the direction one CP took with her story, since I thought it was going a different way entirely. But I got over it. This was her story, and my job was to help her make it the best it could be -- without turning it into something else.

That said, wait until you actually get reviews that slam the book because the reader wanted it to be something else. Nothing you can do about it, but I have learned to recognize that kind of review when choosing books I want to read -- and I usually ignore them.

Em-Musing said...

You bring up great points. I don't let friends read anything anymore. One friend in particular, didn't like the way my character talked. Really?
When a critique partner does that though, they should know better.

Jessica R. Patch said...

I think when my critique partnership started out we rewrote lines but then we learned each other's style and we don't do that anymore. lol

Great reminder today! No one knows the heart of my story like me! :)

Maria Zannini said...

My firm rule is to suggest options but never insist.

I'll rewrite a sentence if it's clunky, but only as an example for how to spot and repair clunkiness. I won't do it more than once.

Karen Lange said...

Good advice! I remember something Jody Hedlund once shared about your book (or manuscript) not being everyone's cup of tea, and that was okay. It's stuck with me, and applies to a lot, you know?

Have a great week!

Prixie said...

What an interesting point of view! I agree, when critiquing, critique how they are trying to tell the essence of the story, not the essence itself.

Cindy R. Wilson said...

This is a great post, and timely for me because I am working with some new CP's. I do sometimes get carried away with what I think a story should look like and how it should go. I try to be mindful of that, and make sure if I'm giving ideas that I say are just MY ideas and of course they should write in their own voice and feel free to disregard my suggestions. I'm going to keep an eye out for this more diligently now, though. Thanks for the post!

Connie Keller said...

I once had a beta reader (whom I didn't know--never a good idea) read a story of mine and do the same thing--tell me what she thought the story "ought" to be. Thankfully, my editor loved my story, so I was able to ignore the beta reader's comments.

Linda Kage said...

Critiquing is a tricky little mindfield. You never know if you're going to say something to set off a bomb. And it's really subjective because no one will ever have the same opinion on something all the time. All you can do is say what you do and don't like in as uplifting, encouraging a way as possible. It's up to the author to take and use what she wants from that.

Sandra Orchard said...

I have one particular critique partner who I loooove to rewrite sentences in my works. She doesn't do it often, but when she does, they are often gems. I only wish she had more time to read. :)

Liza said...

It is hard to walk that fine line when critiquing. As long as I understand the story, then whether or not I think it could have gone differently, I don't suggest changes to the plot or ending. I just suggest clean writing.

Wendy Paine Miller said...

Last book I edited a crazy thing happened. Two critique partners came from opposing views on an important issue. I had to weigh and sift. Finally, I came up with my own solution.

And a huge Congrats to my critique partner, Jill Kemerer for semi-finaling in the Genesis.

Linda G. said...

I've been very lucky with my CPs--they all bring something different to the table, and none of them try to take possession of my books. They are genuinely helpful (and I try to be the same way).

I have a comfortable enough relationship with each of them that we can say to each other "Have you considered saying it this way?" without fear that the other will take offense (or the expectation that our suggestion will automatically be taken). Not that any of us do it often--frankly, it isn't typically necessary.

No egos--just an honest desire to be helpful to each other. :)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

One thing I learned from a dear friend was to give with an open hand. People are free to take or leave my suggestions.

Your point about not tampering with the heart of a story is critical. I've had a number of people want to re-write my story. I no longer share my work with them.

Nas said...

While editing, I always make sure that I do not interfere with the author's voice or her story plots. But I do challenge them to delve deeper in their motivations and dig deep in the POV.

Great post Jennifer!