We all know how vitally important it is for us to open our work up to critique. You HAVE to do this if you truly want to be a writer. Period. But wait! Before you go rushing out to change your manuscript because you're a good listener, you should think it through.
I've said this before - and I'll say it again - I LOVE my critique group. And those who have been generous enough to beta read for me. Does that mean I have made every single change and/or correction they've ever given me? Nope. *Gasp* I know. Have I seriously considered every one of them? YES.
So how do I know when to make the change? Well here's a little checklist that helps me out.
- Is it something that resonates with what I've been feeling? Many times (you'd think I'd learn by now) when I get a piece of advice I think, yes, that's what I thought but I didn't want to acknowledge it on a conscious level. Somehow hearing it from someone else forces me to make that leap.
- Does more than one person have a problem with the same part of the manuscript? Even if the comments are different, you can see that SOMETHING is wrong with this section. Look at it again closely, there's something there that may not be obvious, but I guarantee it exists.
- Is it logical? Writing may be creative but there is a good deal of logic involved. Especially in plotting. And you may be filling in details in your head because, well let's be honest, you KNOW everything about your characters and world. But perhaps you haven't done as well as you thought imparting this knowledge to the reader.
- Does it feel wrong? I know, this is the exact opposite of number 3. But seriously, trust your gut. There's a big difference between not opening yourself up to constructive criticism, and forcing yourself to make the change even though it makes you feel sick inside. And you're the only one that truly knows whether you're just being defensive of your baby or you know it isn't right.*
- Conflicting advice. Person A loves the gnome (you knew I had to throw something in somewhere right?) and person B is emphatic that it doesn't work. Well guess what? You decide.
*If you notice yourself hardly ever taking advice or making changes based on critique, you probably ARE having difficulty with opening yourself up to critique.
Ultimately this is your work, so it is your decision. Just be sure to give everything serious consideration. If you've done that you'll know what's right and what isn't, and you won't second guess it.