Thursday, May 10, 2012

Feedback From a Professional

Happy Thursday! This week I received feedback on a manuscript submission from a source which will remain anonymous.  Suffice it to say, this person's advice is greatly appreciated, and the most professional eye I've had comment on my writing.  I've hesitated about posting this, because, well, I agree with them and it's painful to admit.  But I think others might benefit from the reminders.  I know the frustration of trying to improve, but not knowing if the advice you are getting (usually from other unpublished authors) is really doing you any favors.  This is a huge step up from that advice.  So, for what it's worth, here you go:

For context's sake, we are talking mostly about an early passage in my book during which I spent a lot of time in the main character's head- due to the fact that she has a cognitive disorder linked to her disabilities.

"I ultimately rejected your query and I rarely do this, but I see something in this project and I wanted to explain why I rejected it. I think you have a fantastic idea, unfortunately you take a while to get to it. You tend to have tunnel vision with your writing. Girl says thank you, sits on her wheel chair, rolls into the bathroom, studies herself in the mirror, internalizes a lot of back story as pertains to her accident, etc, etc... You take so much time describing every little detail of every little thing she does that you lose forward progression and any sense of immediacy with the plot. I like the concept. A lot. And like I said, I think there's something excellent here. With a little more work, I think it would definitely resonate more.
I don't usually have this kind of time to invest in queries. In fact, you're my first. The fact that I am doing this should let you know I thought very highly of your submission.

You should know, in your case it was not a matter of it being an grammar issue, but a pacing one. Too much info dumping and back story. There is a fantastic germ of an idea within that query. Weave her disability throughout the manuscript.

Show. Don't tell. You take up too much precious writing space by expounding on the library being her beacon. A paragraph is more than enough to convey that. Is she happy there, do the library customers love her and know her by name? Those are the ways to show us her happiness. Make it tangible, lush. Use all five senses, engage the readers more. Does the library smell of musty old books? Is there a corner cafe brewing fresh coffee and each time the door opens it wafts through? Engage, engage, engage. 

I truly thought this concept fantastic and I do not want you to give up on this story. There is a market for it, breathe life into it and the reader will hang on your every word."

Now, please understand, sharing this is like whipping off all my clothes and giving you a magnifying glass so you can really get in there an examine the cellulite (which is really pointless, because- believe me- you wouldn't need a magnifying glass).   But I want to share with other writers so they don't make the same mistakes.  

In my defense, I like to think this isn't a general trend with me, at least not to this extent, but more of an issue in this specific case, as I struggle with introducing a disability when writing in a first person POV, especially a disability that isn't clearly understood/common/easily physically identified. I see this all as totally fixable.  Time consuming work, but fixable. Its better than "hey, your idea sucks."

Okay, magnifying glasses away now, please.  Thanks :)

(This quote comes just after the monkey bashed him on the head with that stick.  Priceless.)


  1. Thank you for sharing that! and wow, that was amazing feedback and so helpful, I think. It seems now you have a better idea of how to move forward and improve your story. good luck :)

  2. I too appreciate you sharing that critique, Kaye!

    It is very beneficial to others as you stated!

    It takes courage to receive critical feedback and doing so allows the hearer to bear witness to their own personal growth and how they need to grow if necessary; so it's all good!

    Wow- personally, how can you not appreciate the critiques comments. Just having a person to be honest with you and that honesty accommodate you in some way is priceless! Receiving those blessings is rewarding!

    I'm happy for you, Kaye! Reading it made me happy!

    Now all you can do is keep moving forward!


I'd love to hear your musings :)