Trust Your Instinct

I've been thinking a lot lately about editing, crit groups, feedback, etc. One thing I learned is to apply the feedback that improves our manuscript and steers it in the direction we want it to go.

But what if you suck at that? What if you're such a people pleaser that you want to apply everything? Even if your core is screaming, "NO!" What if that feedback is delaying you from finishing because you're afraid your manuscript will never be good enough? That it will never be ready?

I'm here to tell you one thing:


You know what your story is. You know what you wanted to convey. If you wanted your protag to be weak and weepy (without being an annoying Bella Swan type) then go ahead! If you want your story to have purple trees - who's to stop you? If you want a dog with 6 legs - why do you have to give him 4? Because your beta said so? I don't think so!

Now, if you want a weak and weepy protag but your beta says she's fun and jovial - then, ok, you ought to rethink your writing. If you wanted purple trees but your beta clearly saw yellow bushes, then you should clarify your descriptions. If your 6-legged dog is coming off as a gigantic spider then well, you've got some work to do.

But if your weepy protag is just that, and if there is no mistaking your purple trees, and your 6 legged dog is clearly having issues with walking, then I'd say one thing:

Leave the darned manuscript alone!

Please. Seriously. Don't make the same mistakes I've made.

You have to trust your gut. Trust your instinct.

If you don't, you may very well regret it.

So thank your betas and crit partners for their feedback and suggestions. Then, take what helps and ignore the rest. You won't hurt their feelings. They won't be mad. Because, in the end, it's YOUR story. Not theirs. And they know that - just as much as you do.

Oh yes, and I almost forgot!

The winner of THE IRON BODKIN is....

(insert a drum roll here)

Gina Rose!

Congrats! Please contact me at amiegr8tstuff (at) aol (dot) com with your mailing address.


So so true Amie! You really HAVE to remember that you are the author....YOU.
Lydia Kang said…
Congrats to Gina!
And some great words of advice. In the end, it's your name on the line not your crit partners and I agree, you have to know what's right for your own writing!
Vicki Rocho said…
I agree! I think it's easy to sidetrack yourself especially if you're getting feedback from someone you respect.
Erinn said…
Yeah, I went through 4 drafts out of 13 only listening to my betas. Sometimes they're right and other times YIKES.

I pick and choose what to fix and what not to fix.

But honestly I do listen to my betas A LOT. MAybe too much.

Maybe if I didn't listen to them so much I wouldn't have written 13 drafts.

But I'm finally at a place where I"m really proud of my novel and it needed 13 drafts to get it there.
Meg said…
Good advice!

I'm sure the purple trees are pivotal to the plot.

T. Anne said…
Congrats to the winner!

And yes, SO many times I'v had to learn to trust my gut on something. I'm waging war with my gut write now over plot elements, but I'm afraid 'she's' right. ;)
Anonymous said…
Yeah, so I find it hard to incorporate conflicting beta feedback, LOL! I end up deciding what "feels" right.

Nice post!
*claps for Amie*
So true. I think it's important to remember what and why you wrote something in your MS.
I love the feedback and help I get from my CP'S and Beta's, but I always try to use what I feel is best for my story. Even if I do want to please them all. lol.
Congrats to Gina Rose! :) I hope she enjoys The Iron Bodkin.

Amie, you're so right about editing comments. Sometimes they can push you in a fantastic new direction. But they need to 'feel' right and not all suggestions are best for your book.
Anonymous said…
Great advice to give anyone. The only other person I trust is my editor. I trust my gut, especially to make tough decisions like which way the plot should turn, who to kill, who gets off easy and such.

Stephen Tremp
Rose Cooper said…
Great post! And I know your MS is terrific and sometimes it's easier said than done, to move on. But who said writing is easy? sigh. I'm stuck too.
Danyelle said…
So very true. My crit buddies help me see my story in a clearer light, but it's always my gut that makes the decisions. :)
JEFritz said…
Of course. You have to trust yourself to make the right decisions and remember not every sees something the same way.
Rezden said…
I completely agree with this. I write stuff that I would want to read. There is always an audience who will appreciate it too. Purple Trees Unite!!
Jennifer Shirk said…
Totally true.

I love my crit partners! LOVE them. But you're never going to please everyone. I know my story and my writing best, so I use their crits as guides but not end-all-be-alls.
Casey said…
I know. I really hate it when I get feedback from people that says stuff like "You can't start sentences with 'but' and 'and.'" It's like, seriously. Don't people understand characterization? Gosh. xD
Jen Daiker said…
Here's to those sticking to their manuscripts!!! If you want purple trees you keep it that way... Alice in Wonderland had the Red Queen and painted the roses red and worked for her!!!
Meredith said…
Such good advice! I definitely need to learn to trust my instincts more, but there are always points where I despair over my WiP. Thanks for this post!
DL Hammons said…
AMEN! Just like teenagers and peer have to learn how to say no! :)
Sara B. Larson said…
Fabulous post! And so true. Ultimately you have to do what is right for your mss, or else it won't be yours anymore.
Purple trees! yes! I want purple trees! It's funny. I just got a crit back from a beta reader (a stranger) and she CUT OUT EVERYTHING that made my voice my voice to the point where nothing made sense. Sadly, I'm ignoring everything she suggested. On the plus side, I have two other readers – one my CP – who "get" me.
Terri Tiffany said…
This lesson is one I still haven't quite gotten. So thanks for drilling it into my head again. I about wept over some of the changes I made for my Beta readers. I did have to tone my character down but in all honesty she became better I think--but some of it--well, it is my story and I need to remember that in the end.
LeishaMaw said…
Well said! When I first started going to critique groups I had so many voices in my head I lost mine for awhile. It was a good lesson, and now I know to listen to my own voice first and last. Great post.
Pendragon said…
yup. i've scrapped several entire MS (one even nearly completed) because of crits convincing me otherwise. :\ i've been determined to finish this one to the end though, but because of that i've stopped submitting anywhere all together. guess i need a better balance. tho the phrase 'easier said than done' comes to mind.

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