Last week I met with my writing group and read some pages from my current work in progress. It was one of those ‘big reveal’ moments where the heroine finds out about the hero-as in ‘what do you mean you’re not human’.
So this part of the story is very important. It needs to convey ‘holy crap’ and ‘well that changes everything’. It is ultimately meant to move the story in another direction. Anyway…I read these pages to my group and one of my critique partners announced that the reveal wasn’t big enough. Okay. It felt plenty big in my mind, but I wrote down her comments. I always do and then think about them later when I can revisit the story.
Days later I got an email from her telling me that she was still thinking about my story and had some suggestions for me. Namely that the reveal and conversations that were segregated into separate chapters need to be combined into the big reveal and subsequent blow up. And you know what? She was right. (You heard me, so stop smiling already). I have to make the moment momentOUS, otherwise it does little for the momentUM of the story. (Sorry, couldn’t help myself on that one.)
Sometimes it takes a person outside the story and outside the vision you have for to point out the obvious. But what is just as important is that as a writer, I have to be open to accepting these suggestions. That is often one of the hardest things for a new writer (and a long-term writer for that matter) to accept. constructive criticism is just that. It can help you build a better story as long as you deflate your ego and listen. You don’t have to ever use all the suggestions you receive. Go with your gut and if a comment resonates with you than use it. The story is YOURS but it doesn’t mean that it has to be wrapped in a protective covering that only you can access.
Be open. Really creative people should be open to other suggestions. Honest we should.