Last week I talked about the self-editing process (found here) and this week I thought I would touch on something that I've struggled with, and that's being objective about my own work. It was one of my editors biggest issue was that I couldn't look at what I'd written and see the flaws. I feel like I've gotten better at it over the years, but back when I was a baby writer, I didn't really see the forest for the trees, I was too focused on the story itself and not what the outcome would be. There are, still, times when this happens, and I wanted to give you some idea of why it matters that you have some objectivity when it comes to your own work.
As an indie author, I will always have beta readers, and critique partners read through my work. I'll have sensitivity readers when it comes to that need, and I'll have more than just my own eyes look over my work, and this is such an important step because when it comes down to it, I am too close to the story. If I wasn't, then when I was doing my own read through and revisions, I would spot all the problems and fix them before they ever got to my editors.
So what can you do about this? How can you switch your mindset from author to reader? I honestly don't have any tips for you because it's something that I still struggle with. However, I can tell you how to go about making sure that when someone who is objective reads it and points out the issues, how to go about taking on that feedback and going with it.
#1 TRUST YOUR SOURCE
If you're working with someone you don't trust, then I really don't know what to say to you about this, other than maybe, if possible, find someone else to work with. The editor/beta/CP relationship should be built on some kind of trust, whether that's their opinion on your work, or their experience in what they do, or even their ideas as a reader. You need to be able to trust that they will give you their honest opinion and are doing it for the best of your work.
#2 HEAR WHAT THEY SAY
Sometimes, which I've been guilty of, it's easy to jump in and say that this will be explained later in the book, and brush it off. The problem there is that sometimes what they're saying is, that explaining it later doesn't work for the best of the story, that the readers will be frustrated and wanting to know what's going on at that point. So keep your listening ears on, and make sure you actually hear them out.
#3 WEIGH UP YOUR CHOICES
A good beta/editor/CP will be giving you options. They are aware that if you didn't see this issue before that you might not be able to see what the answers are. They may not have the right answer, but they should, at least, give you some idea of where you can take the story from there. The final word is yours, but at the end of the day, you're working with these people to make sure that your story is the best it can be, so if they have ideas, hear them out, and maybe have a back and forth about it. You may find that from their suggestions, you think of something else that will work.
#4 DON'T JUMP TO DEFENSIVE
This is a big one, I've experienced it myself, hell I've done it myself, and it's always the wrong choice. If you don't trust that your beta/editor/CP is trying to help, then maybe it's a sign that you need to be working with someone else. If you do, and you're still defensive about the changes, then maybe it's a sign that your book isn't ready to be at the stage it is, or that you're not ready. That's not a bad thing, but it's something where you need to be really thinking about before you go into this. You have to expect that there will be changes and criticisms and the like, and if you can't handle that, then work on it some more, and to be blunt, get over it.
And finally, #5 WORK TOGETHER
This is another big one, you're gonna be working with these people because you want the best outcome for your book, and that means that you need to be working with them, not against them. I've been in situations before where I've felt like the author I'm beta'ing for, or CP'ing for, hasn't wanted to hear what I'm saying. I've also been in situations where I've had the best experience because the author is willing to hear me, and to change their story while still keeping the plot and such to their liking. Working together is a huge thing that needs to happen.
So there we go, my five tips about working with others, because at the end of it all, you can't be as objective as maybe you could with someone else's work. If you're that rare breed of writer who can, then hat's off to you, but otherwise, I'm in the boat of those who can't.
Any questions? Lemme know in the comments below!
Monday, 5 July 2021
Being Objective - The After Process