How I Took Criticism From My Editor

Every professional writer needs a professional editor. We can’t edit our work ourselves because it’s our work and we have an unknown subconscious bias to our work that makes us miss mistakes that reader can spot a mile away.

But taking criticism from anybody is hard especially when it comes to our dreams of writing. When we work hard and editors say something that’s not ‘this is the best book I’ve ever read’ our heart sink.

We shouldn’t feel this way though because our editors are here to help us.

So here’s my tips for taking criticism from your editor

 

1. Reread what the editor said with a learner’s mindset.

The first time you read the note from the editor you take it to heart. But you need to go back and read it from a business prospective. Keep in mind that you’re reading it to find out what works and what doesn’t.

2.  Understand the editor’s point of view

The editors were hired to help you. You paid them to tell you what you have to improve on so you need to get your money’s worth.

Understand that they’re not being jerks but they just doing their job like you and me.

3. Realize every writer has to go through criticism

You can either ignore someone’s help or take it. You can grow or you can stay the same. No writer writes something and it goes straight to #1 New York Times Bestseller list unless it has been editor.

So think of it as doing what the top sellers and learn from your editor.

4. Don’t take it personally

It’s what you’ve written that’s the problem not yourself. You have to be able to separate yourself and your work . Just because your writing was good in a certain part of your book doesn’t mean you’re not a good writer. It means you just wrote bad at the time.

Want to look at what my editor said?

 

I just got my edits back from my editor and I was satisfied with his work and critique of my book called When Love Hurts. He gave a few suggestions and corrected words and phrases that didn’t make sense.  He also pointed out what he likes about the book first which I guess is to help soften the blow.

Here’s the positives he pointed out:

Your voice is strong and confident. I liked the slow and deliberate style of your writing. It has a very ‘modern’ feel with focus on the mundane, turning the simple actions into actions of importance.

 At times the book felt very much like a first draft, but at others it felt tight and well-polished. The switch
between the two characters worked really well.

 I was very impressed with the confused nature of Jessica. You jumped between feeling sympathy for her and at other times you had a feeling that she was pathetic and weak – great writing.

 Overall I had no major issues with the structure and felt the first person, split focus worked.”

However, he also pointed out what he didn’t like or felt needed changing:

 Present not past tense:

 “For me this was the biggest single problem and the one thing you can change and dramatically transform the book.

As it stands it is largely in past tense. This produces a ‘passive;’ voice as the reader always feels they are one step in the past. I strongly, strongly, suggest you alter the tense to present tense.

I have tried to do this where possible but it is a major task. You need to go through each sentence and make sure the narrator is talking as though it is happenin”

He wants me to change the tense!

That was a surprise but once I started to rewrite a few of the lines it made the sentence go from ok to straight out pow!

It  turned into reading a movie and you’re reading it like you’re watching the action take place in front of you. He was so right about this suggestion and I couldn’t agree more.

Show don’t tell:

 “Where possible you need to present back story via dialogue and action, not narration. Each time you present a chunk of back story via the narrator the reader is left unengaged as the story is handed to them on a plate.

The key is to present back story in short snippets via dialogue and actions. This way the reader becomes engaged as they pick up the clues and build the back story in their own mind’s eye.

The vast majority of deletions and alterations I have made are to remove the narrator telling the reader what is happening. Where possible I have tried to let the actions and dialogue tell the story, not the narrator.

I also talk about showing and not telling and here he was telling me I wasn’t doing what I preached. The thing is I thought I was showing. I had no idea I was telling but without a professional editor I might have never realized it.

So Why did I just share all this with you?

Well, I wanted you to know where my book is at right now and really involve you in my journey as a writer as this is my first time publishing on my own. I figured you can learn from my experience because we call all learn from each other.

Here’s what I learned:

 

1.  No matter what you think when you send off your material to your editor, your editor will always come back with a shock or surprise for you.

They are the pros and we’re not. They can see things we can’t and I love the mistakes I’ve made that he was kind enough to point out. You can’t send off your work to an editor thinking they will come back with information you already know. They will surprise you.

2. It’s worth paying for an editor because it can really give you affirmation about things you’re hesitant about and a professional that knows what he’s talking about.

3. To have an open mind

If you’re going to receiving criticism you better be like a sponge so you can learn from what the editor is telling you. Writers don’t know everything about writing and that’s why we need editor to miss the holes we can’t see.

So consider their suggestion before throwing it out the window.

4. To edit before you sent the copy to a professional editor

If I didn’t edit first he would have had an awful time writing and editing the mess I created. So when I give my best, he can critique my best and I can improve even more.

So overall, I enjoyed my experience with my editor and I love that I got all the suggestions he gave me. Right now I’m implementing his corrections into another draft that I need to reread and rewrite and so forth.

Thanks for reading this post. And if you want to ask me any questions or if you have any comments feel free to comment.

Keep writing

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About the Author

Shaquanda Dalton

Hello, my name is Shaquanda Dalton and welcome to Learnasyouwrite.com! A little about myself, I'm 20, I live in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and am a Sohomore at the University of Wisonsin-Milwaukee. I love writing and have written short stories and simple works since I was nine years old. I have a cute cate named Joey who loves to scratch and bite on his good days.

  • Liya

    Thanks for your thoughts on Bubble Cow.
    I’ve been thinking about using them when I’m
    done with my MS… Just never heard much feedback
    about them. Great post.

    • Shaquanda Dalton

      No problem, Liya. Glad to share and go ahead and give them a try.

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