Writing and Feedback

Hey all, Dani here.

With Camp NaNoWriMo over, my focus now shifts back from writing to the editing process. And that can be a bit more frightening in some regards. Yes, the writing process itself can have its difficulties. I mean, I had to fight and beg and con Thanos, my narrator for my second book, in order to get each chapter finished. So instead of the year to 18 month turnaround, I’m now creeping towards three years since the first book was released.

I think I’m to the point where I could get Project Death: Revelation released towards the end of June or beginning of July…and that’s provided that I don’t have to do any massive edits.

I’m doing a little more writing on the project right now, but my plan is to send the book out to my betas by no later than May 14th.

Which is what really brings me to the point of today’s post: feedback and dealing with the commentary.

There are so many sites nowadays where writers can post up their creative projects and receive input from anyone. Some people post writing on their blog, some post on a Facebook page, and some have formed closed writing groups with others they trust. Then there are sites like fictionpress, where you can post stories or poems or chapters of a novel and then receive comments from others, either logged in or anonymously.

I started posting on fictionpress back around 2004, I believe, and it worked fairly well for a while. I had a decent number of views and reviews for each chapter. But then fictionpress introduced forums and it started to feel more like a collaborative writing role-play site. My views dropped and so did my comments on each chapter, and then the reviews just stopped.

After too many months of feeling like fictionpress wasn’t working for me anymore, I pulled all of my stories and left the site. Then I started looking for a replacement. I think I have found one that functions a lot better, and that is CritiqueCircle. What I love most about it is that it costs credits to post a chapter up on the review board, and you earn credits by reviewing for others. Now, the downside is that if you post in the public queues you might have to wait a month or so in between chapters coming up for review. Or you can spend extra credits to bump your latest higher up the queue. But CritiqueCircle also has a subscription service that can get you a private queue, so you can invite a small number of people to your queue to review your writing, and you can even allow them to post their own writing in the queue as well.

Now, I’ve also heard a lot of buzz around Wattpad, but I’ve only gotten on it to check out a couple chapters for some friends, but I might have to look into it even more. It seems pretty cool too, and it seems like there are a bunch of people there who follow stories and comment on new chapters, which I love.

No matter where you share your writing though, it’s also important to consider how you’ll respond to constructive criticism and just plain ole negative commentary.

I know there have been many times where I’ve read a comment or review that in hindsight was really helpful, but in the moment made me go on the defensive because it felt like something I had worked so hard on was being attacked, for lack of a better word. So I would respond, thank them for their comments, and try not to defend my writing.

Instead I would take a day or two to really think about what they said. Back then I would mostly ignore what they said because I thought I knew better. But I’ve studied the craft of writing quite a bit since then and I’d like to think I’ve grown since then.

I’m better able to step back and look over the comments I receive and digest them and use them to reconsider that particular line or scene. And especially if I receive the same comment from several readers, I definitely know that I need to fix the issue.

I think the thing is, as writers we read our words so many times that we can overlook the errors because we know how it’s supposed to read. But readers, they are seeing the words with fresh eyes so they notice things. And that’s great. I’m also a huge reader…I mean, I’m now up to 44 books read in 2016. A couple months ago I picked up my first book and was looking for a detail for book two, but then I got distracted; I just kept reading. Because I hadn’t looked over it for so long, it was as if I lacked that writerly connection to it. I could read my own book as if I were just another reader.

And man, I noticed a few things I had missed or things that could have been expanded on or explained better.

So, I’m trying to do better with my second book. I only had one beta reader for the first book, but I think I have five or six for book two, and I can’t wait to see what they think of my book. I’m hoping they like it, but I’m also prepared for them to tell me what I need to fix in order to make it even better.

A little while ago I did an honest review of my first book and I gave it a 3.5 star rating. Even with the rough draft of this book, I’m feeling that this is more of a 4 star or 4.5 star rating. And that’s exciting for me. I like seeing that I’m getting better.

All right, guys, I’ll see you later for my next post in the #MayBookPrompt challenge.

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