I discussed some of the issues my writer friend, Laurie, raised about my manuscript in my last post. Here’s the process I used to work with and apply the rest of his feedback. I hope that sharing this will help others to work positively with any feedback they get.
Oh and by the way, I didn’t have that nervous little heart flutter before I looked at Laurie’s feedback. Does that mean that ego has finally taken a back seat to the quest for excellence?
‘Its a really good yarn … I got quite caught up in it. It’s inventive and new! The plot is great – always something new and exciting. The work you have done to embody meditation principles is brilliant. The characters are generally good … and interesting.
‘I found myself very comfortable with the way Walnut explains things but had a little more difficulty with Maya’s voice. At times she becomes something of a caricature of an old wise woman. I would run against stereotype here and make her character (at least the way she looks and behaves) VERY different from the archetypal old wise woman – but that’s a personal preference.’
I didn’t realise that she came over that way. Thanks goodness someone told me! I certainly don’t want a stereotyped character in my novel. I’d love to make her more interesting. I’ve already had a chat with Maya and she said – ‘I don’t mind wearing something different, but I’m not going to pretend to be someone else. Look deeper and you’ll find what you’re looking for.’ I’ll be sharing that process of character deepening in more detail in an other post.
‘From a writing angle … I think there is still opportunity to edit back considerably (especially in the first several chapters). At times way too much pointless detail in terms of getting the protagonists from A to B which slows the action down.’
Good news. This means I can shorten the word count, be even more precise and keep the reader’s interest better. I’m extremely grateful that he has taken the time to point out these parts. It saves me having to decide for myself where they are.
‘I would recommend less “ing” words … shorter sentences and more “ed” words. The “ing” words take the directness out of the prose especially when there is more than one or two in a single sentence.’
Good advice. Thanks to the search function in word, it’s easy to go through and check out the ‘ing’ endings.
’Also, just in the dialogue … You start a lot of sentences with “Oh” or “Yes” or “no” or “good”. This can often be implied and the dialogue is more direct (and in some cases understated) without it.’
I was completely unaware that I’d done this and when I looked I was amazed at how overloaded my dialogue was with these things.
‘Also watch when you make the tense passive – things really slow down and words and sentences get longer.’
That’s interesting because I generally avoid passive tense. I’ll look at that using the grammar check.
’So keep editing it back. I think there’s still a lot of fine tuning that can be done to make this flow better. ‘
Okay so here’s what I’ll do in order. I’m starting with the easiest and going to the most difficult. That will give time for ideas to come for the more challenging things.
- check all ‘ing’ endings.
- Check ‘oh’s, ‘yes’s, ‘no’s and ‘good’s
- Check instances of passive voice
- Go through Eveline’s notes on the ms & deal with anything not already sorted.
- Go through Laurie’s notes on the ms & deal with anything that I havn’t covered already or isn’t in the following points
- Make Maya less of a stereotype.
- Rewrite the development of Nick and Ariel’s relationship
o An initial primarily negative impression
o Positive begins when he rescues her, but still wary
o Emphasise the spiritual aspect at the inn with the potential of romantic as a side effect.
o Note their changing perception of each other’s attractiveness as they journey together.
o Probably okay after the beach, just check degree of passion – remember the boys.
- Check the frequency of use of description of facial and body movements to describe emotions.
- Read the whole thing and edit it back further.
So I have my work cut out for me, but when it’s done, I can be confident that the ms really will be ready to hook a publisher.
How do you deal with feedback? Is there anything here that you could apply to your own writing?