You've spent months writing a novel. You've revised it, cherished it, dreamed about it, hated it, formatted it, and fallen in love all over again. You're ready to send it out to your first readers. And it's like cutting out a little piece of your soul, knowing it will come back chopped to little bits. Like Andy in Pretty in Pink, you know you'll have to sew it back together again using bits of old and new versions, until you have something shiny and beautiful and unique.
But what do you do when your betas and critique partners disagree?
My current manuscript has been through many revisions. I felt that it was close to being really, truly done. Recently, though, I won several critiques through contests. Each comment has been different, but some have been specifically the opposite advice. In an earlier draft, I had this line. I really liked it. It felt like it summed up what the book was about in the first page, without being too obvious. One of my first readers took the time to say, "I love this line!" Another one said cut it. I decided to leave it in, and it has survived through a few revisions. In my sit down with an editor at the SCBWI conference, she said cut it. Two more contest critiques came in last night, and guess what? They both took the time to compliment that line. (Though they both had plenty of other suggestions for things to ax!)
And that was just one line. I've had the exact same thing happen with entire scenes. This month I've learned how subjective personal taste can be. Ultimately, I just have to go with my gut about what advice I want to take. I also have to keep my head up and stay confident (or at least pretend to be) that this story is on the verge of being that shiny, beautiful, unique thing, and that it will one day find a home.
Music for today: Bandages by Hot Hot Heat