On Feedback

I am at the point in two different stories (By the Fates, Freed and Empire of the Undead) where I’m soliciting feedback from beta readers and the Online Writers Workshop for Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror.

This is a great and terrible place at the same time. It’s great because I have works that are theoretically either publishable or are going to be publishable. I don’t have to spend as much time immersed in the tedium of blocking out action scenes or coming up with motivations for my characters. It’s great because overall, the feedback I’ve gotten on both of these works has been largely positive (in other words, no one is telling  me that I’m a shit writer and foolish to even think about publishing).

It’s a terrible place because it’s a place of second guessing. I’m still waiting on most of the feedback on By the Fates. But I put the first chapter of Empire of the Undead up on the Online Writers Workshop and I’ve gotten two very detailed and actionable pieces of feedback on it. That’s awesome. The two reviewers have been encouraging, detailed, and thoughtful. I love them. But they both raised different points and all of their points are valid (ok, so there’s one point that wasn’t as the reviewer read something wrong, but I still rewrote the line as it obviously lent it self to misinterpretation). The issue is that a couple of their points are valid in a way that I don’t know that I agree or that I NEED to make the change they suggest.

So now I need to play the game of balancing. For example, if you look at the sample chapter I posted on Empire, there is one decent sized paragraph of backstory. In the original chapter, before I even thought about posting it, there were pages of backstory. I cut it down to a single paragraph with the intentions of sprinkling a paragraph in here and there over the first 3-4 chapters. But one of the reviewers thinks I should cut out this last remaining paragraph and let the first chapter be all action.

That’s a very valid point. All action makes the chapter more gripping. But it also means the reader has to wait longer for any backstory, and in part, I think it’s the backstory that makes you care enough about Emily that you’ll read more. So what do I do?

That question was rhetorical, by the way.  I haven’t actually decided what to do yet, but I’ll figure it out. But that’s the rub of good, actionable feedback. It makes you think and makes you act, and makes you second guess all that thinking and acting.


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