Wednesday, August 08, 2018

Relatives versus Reality

My family and friends read my story and loved it, so why does it keep being rejected by publishers?

You have to love family and friends, especially the truly supportive ones. Always make sure you appreciate them!

But, there are two main reasons why it isn’t such a good idea to have them critique your writing.

First, most loved ones only want to encourage you and don’t want to hurt your feelings by saying anything negative. This doesn’t mean they are lying to you or didn’t like the story, simply that they will usually tell you what you want or need to hear, or only the parts they liked—even if you ask them to be hard, they won’t, for your sake. Admirable and loving, most definitely…but not helpful.

Second, and most important, most family and friends don’t know the technical aspects of Goal-Motivation-Conflict, POV, pace, validation/details, or characterization, or the mechanical aspects such as Telling versus Showing, misplaced modifiers, disjointed body parts, and sentence structure. So, they may enjoy your story not knowing the facets that could make it better--and more important, publishable.

Not that you shouldn’t let family and friends read your work if you so choose, simply that you also need an impartial third party to evaluate and see what's really going on in your manuscript.

Critique partners are INVALUABLE for this. Getting with a group or even just one or two other writers to help motivate, and especially assist in finding the areas that aren’t working in your manuscript, is essential for the up and coming writer--well, in truth, any writer whether new or established.

Now, I will say that I equate finding a critique partner to that of dating. It may take feeling out a few to find the one or two that you can work with and feel comfortable sharing. Everyone has different personalities and different work ethics, and it is important you find those you are compatible with, so don't be discouraged if one or even a few don't work out initially, BECAUSE, let me tell you, when you find the right ones you click with, the added bonus is often building great and long lasting friendships.

If finding a critique partner isn’t up your alley or too time consuming for you, then having your manuscript assessed by a freelance editor is another option. There will obviously be fees associated with this choice, but the knowledge you will gain and the guidance in the areas that need to be improved upon can more than make up for the cost.

So, let your family support you, but don't put the pressure on them to evaluate your manuscript. Find a critique partner, writing group, or freelance editor to guide you down that path to publication.

For those who already have critique partners, how did you find them? Feel free to share to help others get connected.


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