Sunday, July 3, 2011

Negative Feedback

Rejection is inevitable. Writing is an art and as such certain styles don't appeal to everyone. I may not be a fan of modern art but I enjoy impressionism. Same with writing. Not everyone is going to like everything and rejection, or negative feedback, can be hard to take.

I am involved with an online critique group. Five mystery writers who all write in different sub genres. I'm working on a historical mystery set in Victorian times. One person is writing a modern day espionage thriller, another one is writing a cozy mystery, another still in writing about a campy heroine who is always getting herself in to sticky situations.

We all have our different time periods, style and preferences. A debate raged and battle lines were drawn recently over the use of contractions. I prefer to stay away from contractions in my descriptions. Thoughts and dialogue notwithstanding, I feel contractions in historical novels take away that feeling of the past. I am not saying they can not be used, contractions have been part of the English language for centuries. I simply choose to use them sparingly and only in dialogue if it suits the character. This personal style decision does not sit well with some of my critique partners who have said my novel does not flow because I have omitted them. Again, it's all about choice.

I receive comments about my choice of words, my sentence structure and the like. I use terms and phrases that are more often found in Jane Austen, Charles Dickens and Lucy Maud Montgomery but are not found amongst modern literature. Is this wrong or a matter of style choice?

My use of repetition to create literary emphasis has been put under scrutiny as well. Again, is this a matter of style or a matter of right and wrong?

Critique groups can be good to point out obvious flaws and holes in the story. But when it comes to personal style I think too many writers try to impress their own style onto the people they are critiquing.

It's been hard for me not to take the negative feedback to heart. I have to remind myself that everyone has an opinion and if I ask for feedback I can not control the type of feedback I receive. I have to take the good with the bad and learn what I can from it. Above all I must keep writing because that is the only way I will be able to get to where I want to be. Published.

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