Fresh Eyes #IWSG

It’s the first Wednesday of the month, and we all know what that means… It’s Insecure Writer’s Support Group Day!

With everything that’s going on with my personal life, you’d think I wouldn’t have time to be an insecure writer. Alas, that’s not the case. I mentioned a few weeks ago that I had finally finished my rewrites of Isto. *cheer!* I announced this wonderful feat to my critique group, and Troy told me he had a contact for me. He’d met an epic fantasy writer while at the LTUE Writer’s Conference, and the writer was looking for a beta read. Troy’s not much for epic fantasy (he’s a suspense/mystery/horror guy), so he made a digital introduction and the other epic author and I agreed to a swap.

LTUE Guy certainly doesn’t pull his punches. “Please don’t be offended. I was yawning all through your chapter 4. It needs help.” Considering that the first ever writing feedback I got (10 years ago) was from my sister-in-law who told me she hated my main characters and wanted to rip out her eyeballs after reading my description… I figured this tidbit about tension was fair.

I wasn’t offended. In fact, I wasn’t even distraught. Chapter 4 is one of the handful of chapters that hasn’t been rewritten from scratch since I started this book. It was over 6 years old, and only received minor tweaks to the wording here and there because the three major timeline shifts that I’ve done don’t reach back far enough to affect this chapter.

So I rewrote it on Saturday, cut 800 words, and applied the conflict cycle to generate more tension. He said it’s better.

I reflect on this with pride in my personal growth. Tension has always been one of those fail points for me (along with inappropriately unconcerned characters). But here, I can compare my work from 6 years ago to my current writing and there’s a notable improvement.

Why I am still an insecure writer? Because I don’t know what other issues are lurking in my book. I thought Isto was pretty much ready. Clearly, I was wrong.

IWSG Question of the Month – Other than the obvious holiday traditions, have you ever included any personal or family traditions/customs in your stories?

Nope. Not really.

Do you have a thick skin when it comes to blunt feedback? Have you noticed personal growth in writing or something else? Do you find fresh eyes help?

About Insecure Writer’s Support Group
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You can find the sign up for the IWSG here. We owe Alex J Cavanaugh a huge thank you for thinking this blog hop up.

Loni Townsend

About Loni Townsend

Wife. Mother. Writer. Ninja. Squirrel.

21 thoughts on “Fresh Eyes #IWSG

  1. I’d rather have the blunt feedback. Better to see it now then read about it in the reviews later. Glad to see Isto moving forward.

  2. I feel like a lot of beta readers try too hard to spare my feelings. I’d rather get that kind of honest feedback.

  3. You should absolutely be proud of that personal growth. Good for you, Loni! 🙂

  4. Kudos to you for taking it in the spirit it was meant! I have such difficulty doing that, I’m sure it interferes with my writing edits. Sigh.

  5. Hard to hear but when you know it’s the truth and are willing to change things, then it’s definitely good.

  6. This why fresh eyes are always good. it may sting, but it’s worth the pain.

  7. I love your attitude! I’m the same way. I’m not saying it’s always easy. But when doing rewrites and critiques, I know I need an ego check. I’d rather have someone tell me what’s not working so I can fix it.

  8. Beta readers do improve your writing when they are honest. I have been experiencing that this year too. They see sometimes what we are too close to see. I suspect you novel closer to ready than not. You got this!.

  9. Anna

    I end every project with the words, “It’s the best writing I’ve done so far.” Then I get feedback and discover how to grow and improve on perfection. *snort*

    They don’t want to hurt anyone (but they might); they only want to bump up the work. 🙂

    Anna from elements of emaginette

  10. You’ve got a great attitude. I try to take that attitude too. I think it’s important to remember how subjective opinions are and whenever you get a critique, there will be suggestions.

  11. The thing about feedback is they never have anything to say about that one part that you thought was problematic, but they find all sorts of issues in spots you had no idea had issues. But that’s why crit partners are so critical (and so great). Congrats on finding someone who does give you blunt feedback.

  12. C. Lee McKenzie

    I appreciate readers who tell me their honest reactions, especially before I send a book out for public consumption. So much better to have a shot at making it better. Unfortunately, I’ve discovered mine can always be better, so I have to learn when to write The End and mean it.

  13. Better to get blunt feedback before a book is published! Sometimes I feel like I’ll be rewriting and editing my book forever.

  14. Fresh eyes are always helpful, I think. And I’d rather have blunt feedback. I don’t want betas or CPs to pull their punches. I can’t improve a story if they’re not telling me what didn’t work for them. Doesn’t mean it always feels good to hear the blunt feedback, but it’s still better than the alternative.

  15. I wish all of my authors handled edits as well as you do.

  16. Ouch. That comment would have left me cringing and crying for days (and probably questioning my writing career). Sounds like you’re handling it like a pro. And yes, seeing growth in your work is one of the BEST things, because it’s your reward for not giving up!

    Good luck with the rest of the swap. I’m sure Isto will be in its best shape! 🙂

  17. Any feedback is helpful, even if you don’t follow it completely. Readers usually see what the writer misses. Good luck with the rest of this swap. Your story would be definitely better for this.

  18. My skin is definitely thicker than it use to be. I think the more crits we get the more business-like we begin to read the crits, pulling and tugging at the comments to create out best work.

    But it can be a head thunker to find out your are now where you thought you were.

  19. Those “fresh eyes” sure can help. I tend to get a bit defensive about criticism at times, but then it’s like somebody criticizing my wife or kids. My writing is my babies.

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out

  20. I’m assuming this guy with the feedback is a best selling author for you to take what you think is good and turn it upside down? If not, I’d always get a second opinion. I’m not saying advice should be ignored; I’m just saying weigh it against what others tell you and what your gut tells you.

    You’re a good writer. Have faith in yourself.

    • Thank you for looking out for me, Elizabeth, and for the vote of confidence. 🙂 He’s not a best-selling author, but I’ve learned to step back and examine my work while applying advice I’ve absorbed over the years. In this case, I had this post from Jim Butcher and this article from John D. Brown to pull from. When I asked myself if the character obtained his goal, the answer was a simple yes. And based on the articles, which I do trust, I was able to ascertain that yeah, the tension could be enhanced.

      I’ve since broke off my exchange with LTUE Guy. I have more changes I want to do with Isto, so exchanging isn’t in my best interest right now.

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