Reading over the comments from my last post, I started to wonder if it is possible to want both validation for our work as well as suggestions of ways to make it better?
I know when I first start working on a story I love it. I mean, you’ve got, right? Or why bother writing it in the first place? But to tell the truth once I’ve worked on it for so long, rewriting, revising and tweaking it’s darn near impossible to be objective. I get to a place where I don’t know if what I’ve written is any good —as in someone wanting to invest their time reading it.
My thinking is this, it would be nice to have someone tell me if the characters pulled them in, if it was a pager-turner, etc. etc, but of course only if it was. But at the same time I’d also want someone to point out any flaws. Hmm I suppose that would be called a critique, right?
This brings me to this question: Can you honestly like a story yet see ways that it could be improved? Or does it mean the book/the story isn’t any good if it has a number of flaws?
I’m thinking about the editing involved once an editor gets hold of your manuscript. They make suggestions, point out flaws and yet they still made the decision to publish your story. But how can that be if they still want you to make changes? I mean they want to publish it. Doesn’t that mean it’s already perfect?
One author told me her editor changed three words in her manuscript. I say wow! I don’t expect that will ever be my experience. Bitter, Sweet had 5,000 words added to it, extra scenes, a shift in one chapter from third person into first person plus some tweaking I did along the way. I worked with the suggestions my editor made and the story ended up much stronger because of it. I’ve read what other writers have said about the editing process for their books and it sounds quite similar to mine.
Right now I’m reading a book that took me a little while to get into it, but now that I am I would describe it as a good book. I like the main character and I’m enjoying the plot and I hope things work out for him. The thing is, as I’m reading this particular story I find myself being critical. Too much of this and a little too much of that. I’m not quite convinced that some of the character’s actions ring true for me. I find myself questioning it. It’s not a matter of not liking the character’s behaviour so much as it is a matter of believing their behaviour.
Yet I still call it a good book and it is truly worthy of publication. Perhaps other people would read the book and not notice what seems obvious to me. We all have different experiences with the same book and even interpret it in different ways. Or maybe I’m just cranky and looking for something to complain about. I’ve read this author’s work before and really liked it. Perhaps I’m super sensitive since I’m doing the same thing with my manuscript at the moment.
So in your opinion, is it possible for a story to be both good and flawed at the same time? And if a story is both good and flawed how much tweaking and polishing is really required considering the fact that an editor is going to want to make changes once the manuscript is going through edits?