How Many Eyes are Too Many?
By Andrea Merrell
I recently heard an author say, “With my next
book, there won’t be so many eyes on it.”
But I thought the more eyes the better, you might be thinking.
Sometimes that’s true, depending on the eyes. At other times it can be a source of confusion and frustration. Why? Because everyone sees from a different perspective and has their own opinion of what works and what doesn’t.
I’ve found this true in my own writing. From critique groups to beta readers to feedback from contests to appointments at writers’ conferences, I’ve gotten a plethora of comments on the same project. Trying to please everyone, I spent years attempting to incorporate all the differing suggestions. What I got for my efforts was a bucketful of discouragement.
So, what’s a writer to do? Isn’t feedback important? Absolutely. That’s how we learn and grow. Hone our craft and polish our prose. The key is in finding the right eyes.
Let’s face it. Not everyone will applaud what we write. Maybe they don’t like our writing style. Maybe it’s not a genre they enjoy—or understand. Or maybe the timing is wrong. I’ve found that some folks will be hesitant—not wanting to be unkind—to give constructive criticism while others will use their editorial machete to rip apart your work no matter what. There will even be those who want to reword and rewrite your work in their own voice.
Am I trying to discourage you from seeking advice? Not at all. I’m only suggesting that you choose your critique partners carefully and limit the amount of feedback you seek while you are writing your story. Too much second-guessing will discourage you, destroy your confidence, and keep you working on the same project for years to come.
Once you finish your manuscript, you will go back through it a dozen times making your own changes. After all, good writing means write, proof, edit, rewrite … rinse and repeat. Having input from those you trust will go a long way in helping you present your best work, but in the end, the story belongs to you.
My best advice is to take the suggestions given and weigh them carefully. If you feel they’re a good fit, use them. If not, put them aside. You might end up using them another time.
What about you? Have you ever experienced the too-many-eyes syndrome?