Monday, October 5, 2015

#Pitchslam is Nigh! A Bit About Feedback

It's time for another season of Pitchslam, the writing contest with the bonus of feedback! For all the nitty-gritty, you can check out our fearless leader's post here:
There's all kinds of bonuses to writing contests: feedback, getting your work in front of agents who might not be open to queries at the time, camaraderie between contestants, and even finding critique partners who get you but aren't afraid to tell you when you're way off course. (Seriously, crit partners (CPs) are essential. If you don't have one, get one. Or three.)
What I really like about writing contests is getting fresh eyes on my pitch or first pages. As the writer, we know the ins and outs of our story, and those details never really leave our minds. So when we're writing queries or pitches, it's easy to think our summary makes sense when really we're filling in a gap with our insider knowledge. When we think it's good, that's when we need fresh eyes on it.
If an outsider can tell what your novel is about from the pitch/query, then you're on the right track. If not, then you might want to look at it again.
All feedback, when it comes down to it, is a suggestion. No one is required to make changes someone else recommends. It's important to strike a balance in receiving and utilizing suggested revisions. If a dozen people give you a dozen different comments, then it's probably safe to disregard them. If a dozen people give you the same piece of advice, then you should probably consider reworking that place in your story.
You've toiled away on your novel, put into it lots of blood, sweat, and tears, and having someone tell you that you need to change it can be hard to swallow. Step away from it all for a minute, take a breath, and really consider it. Depending on the size of the change, take a week or month if you have to. Decide if it's the right move for you. If it feels like it's absolutely wrong, then thank them for their suggestion and move on.
Expect change. Nothing we put out is perfect. All the way up to the day your novel hits the bookstore shelves, you'll be asked to make changes by your critique partners, your agent, or your editor. And even after it's all said and done, you probably find something you'd wished you'd changed. If you can see it as an opportunity rather than an obstacle, it'll make the road a lot less bumpy.
So, in the spirit of feedback, give me some of yours in the comments!

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