I remember the first time that I got beta reader feedback for The Diminished I was absolutely gutted. I had given this reader the absolute best story I could manage and they poked it full of holes. But then someone told me something that’s really stuck with me.
The moment you send your book out into the world, it is no longer yours. It belongs to the reader. And as such, the editing process is there to make sure that the book you send out is the best it can possibly be. Therefore, I look at the edit letter as part of the way I can begin to make my story shine.
My wonderful editor had three major points in her edit letter for The Diminished. She wanted a bit more time to ease into the world in the beginning of the book, she wanted me to amp up the romance in Vi’s sections, and she wanted to see more on the page clarification of the religion in the world. She gave me 30,000 words to do all that. I ended up using about 20,000.
I know that some writers have a really strong gut reaction to changing their work, but for me, I look at it as a challenge and a very necessary part of the process. I think that each pass, each new set of eyes, each revision makes the work stronger. We, as writers, should strive to present our readers with the best possible version of our stories, and that’s what our editors work to glean from our manuscripts: the clearest, most engaging versions of our stories.
So here’s my suggestion. Try to shift your perspective. Rather than seeing criticism as a barb, try to think of it as a challenge, a way to shape and improve a story you deeply love. No one person can create a perfect story. It takes a team.
Kaitlyn Sage Patterson
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