Yesterday I received feedback on one of my stories from my RWA Chapter – Iowa Romance Novelists. It was good feedback. Meaning two things: 1st – They liked it. This was huge. Because honestly, they could have hated it. 2nd – They noted things I needed to work on and I actually understood everything they said. Do you have any idea how big that is?? It means I actually have the power to make my story better. So YAY!!
A couple of thoughts from the whole experience.
Receiving feedback is nerve wracking. Watching what I ate yesterday wasn’t an issue; my stomach rolled and churned and did all kinds of twisty flips that I didn’t know were possible. Seriously. I mean, this is an experienced group of writers/readers who each bring a differing palate of reading preferences, life’s experiences and opinions to the table. It wasn’t a shoe-in like bringing a chocolate cake to a chocolate anonymous group would have been.
But, I want to become a better writer. I want to be able to share my stories with other people. I want others to be able to enjoy my alternative worlds as I do. So… that means putting myself on the line once in awhile. It was totally worth it. I loved hearing all the feedback and it gave me lots to consider/work on. And I can’t thank each and every one of them enough for taking the time to read through things and give their thoughts and suggestions. Thank you guys!
Okay, so there’s nothing else to say, right? Well… funny thing… of all the comments only one bothered me. Really bothered me. The one that so closely echoed my own worry. How ironic is that? Only one person commented on it. Typically the rule of thumb is, if one comments… hear it, note it but you don’t need to feel compelled to do anything more. If two people comment on it, hear it, note it and definitely ponder it. Maybe there is something there that you could do better. But if three people comment on the same thing… most likely you have something you truly need to note/change. Well, this was only one person. But as I said, it echoed something I’d already pondered many a time before.
The comment? I’m not starting at the true critical moment.
It is one of the critical moments but perhaps not the critical moment. Perhaps it comes off as backstory or a prologue. There are lots of differing schools of thought on prologues/backstory/flashbacks–I won’t go into all that more than to say; if I’m to choose between a prologue and a flashback, I’d choose prologue. Why? Because of my own personal reading preferences. I personally can’t stand extended flashbacks/replay of a memory. They irritate me. I don’t know why. I suppose I could sit here and give you all kinds of thoughts on it but frankly what it comes down to is, I don’t care. The backstory moment HAS to be blended in a way that I don’t feel like I’m going to spend an hour reading a memory. I figure… ‘Skip it, we’ll figure out what happened from what happens in the rest of the story.’
So… where does that leave me? Since it was something that already bugged me, I’ve decided to challenge myself; to write a new beginning. Flashbacks can be done in a manner that isn’t a three page ‘memory’ and I’m determined to nail it in a manner that even someone like me, who is very picky about how memories are shared, would read it.
I’m excited. I already have an idea. But I’m also nervous. I state this from experience – its easy to ‘think’ one has included all the information that was originally in the first draft in the second draft. But the mind is easily foiled here. It knows what is supposed to have happened and doesn’t ‘see’ what is lacking. I guess I’ll just address that when I get there. Which leads me to the next point; I’m a bit daunted by the amount of work I know I have ahead of me. I know how long it took me for the scenes I’m abandoning. Yikes. Oh, and yeah…we can’t forget the heart. It aches for those set-to-the-side scenes. I love them! There is definitely a part of me in mourning even as the thrill of this new scene begins to take form.