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01/28/2011 • 2:55 PM 1
01/28/2011 • 7:00 AM 6
Mostly people follow the advice that appeals to them. If five people give them the same uncomfortable advice, they’ll keep asking until lucky advisor number 15 tell them what they were hoping to hear. That’s not the way to progress.
Blogging about writing and publishing can be a quixotic adventure. For instance, I went through an entire short story one time and showed the writer precisely how he could improve his writing. These were very straight-forward craft issues that got in the way of readability. The next piece he sent me had the same problems.
Not everyone has to write like I do. However, since he was so enthusiastic about my original suggestions, I wondered if it was a question of the writer needing more time to absorb the information and practice.
In a writing critique group, you can spot the defensive people quickly. They write Stet! beside each suggestion (including that tell-tale exclamation point.) Defensive writers spend a lot of time talking when their critique group colleagues ask questions or are confused. Instead, they should be listening. Any writer is free to disregard suggestions, but not during the explanation of the concern.
Is advice all for naught? Sometimes. But professional writers take advice most of the time. They aren’t so attached to their writing that they expect it will be 100% perfect on the first draft. That’s crazy-talk. Professional writers respect writing too much to make that assumption.
Just remember: an editor’s focus is the text. They’re trying to help you.
However, if you sense an editor is looking at it as a game where they’re tracking points, zeroing in on every error as if it’s a moral victory…well. Delete them.
Also, I have to mention that sometimes the advice is just bad: