1. katica
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    katica Senior Member

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    That Hurt D=

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by katica, Aug 29, 2011.

    And I don't even know how to handle it.

    Let me explain what I am talking about. I know a woman who is a professional editor and I can handle critique (already received a lot of it and made many changes to my novel and the things that sucked about it).

    She read the first chapter of my novel and gave me a lot of good critique, all of which I will be incorporating to my novel. She makes very good points, but . . .

    At the end of the critique, she said,"That was an okay first draft."

    I almost started crying when she said that because I've re-written every chapter of this novel at least 20 times. I've worked my butt off on it and it still reads like a first draft. I don't expect it to be perfect, but I didn't expect it to read like a first draft.

    I study writing as much as I can. Listen to advice and take people's critiques and my novel still reads like a first draft? OMG!

    A part of me just wants to quit writing entirely now. I know I'm probably not going to anyway because I'm addicted to it like its made of crack. but still, that was awful!

    Maybe you'll make fun of me for getting upset at that part, but you need to understand I didn't get upset by:

    - Her saying that my characters were boring
    - That you couldn't tell where the location of my novel was
    - That I need to cut out the short explanation I have in it entirely
    - Basically that I need to scrap this chapter and re-write it

    I don't mind having to change it. It just makes me feel retarded for something I re-wrote a million times to read like a first draft.
     
  2. DBTate
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    DBTate Senior Member

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    Take in to account that she only read the first chapter. Although this is probably the norm for editors / publishes, it does not mean that the entire work reads like a first draft.

    Also, in quite an ironic turn of events, perhaps the amount of editing you've done has made your writing worse? Sometimes your first draft needs only a touch up in regards to SPAG, and overhauling the entire thing can take out the magic that was initially there. Do you get what I mean?

    In this sense, it is important not to take too much critique on board. Although everyone is trying to be helpful, sometimes listening to too many opinions can turn your writing in to simple, unreadable, rubbish.

    I understand how heartbreaking it can be to get a bad review on work that you considered to be of quite high standards, however, my best advice to you would be to use this as fuel to further improve your writing abilities.

    What she's said should drive you to make her say "this is great!" the next time she reads your work.

    Hang in there! It's a tough life the one we've chosen :)
     
  3. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    There is no such thing as a typical first draft. So, anything that isn't a finished product can be considered a first draft. Some things require more revision than others. Don't let it throw you. After all, you knew when you showed it to her that it still needed work, so don't be discouraged when she told you that it does. Be glad she provided you with some constructive suggestions.

    Good luck.
     
  4. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Katica:

    I know it sucks. A couple things:

    1. I've seen writing that was rewritten multiple times and still not in a position to get an "OK" from an editor or publisher;

    2. The things that make it an "OK first draft" to her and the things that you've been re-writing over and over may be two completely different aspects of the work.

    I'd try to apply the advice and see what you come up with.
     
  5. Kalpea_Tuli
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    Kalpea_Tuli Member

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    "- That I need to cut out the short explanation I have in it entirely"

    Can I ask what sort of explanations they are? About characters, or... ?

    I guess editors aren't meant to be kind, it is part of their business to make writers feel bad about themselves... so, chin up and hang on there.
     
  6. The-Joker
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    The-Joker Contributing Member Contributor

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    That sums up the inappropriateness of your concern. You say all this devastation comes from the editor referring to your chapter as a first draft, when first drafts come in all forms and guises. To some editors maybe everything is a first draft before they run their claws through it. A first draft that's well planned and delicately written can be quite brilliant and very close to the final product. So calling a piece of work a first draft actually says nothing about the quality of the writing.
     
  7. katica
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    katica Senior Member

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    @DBTate: I did think of that possibility. I don't know. I do tend to listen to everyone's critiques of me. Even if at first I don't agree, I suddenly agree in about a week or something so far with everything everyone has said to me.

    @Steerpike: I will. I was going to eventually. I was just scared that because I've re-written this first chapter over and over and it still reads like a first draft that when I re-write it, it will still continue to read like a first draft.

    @EDFromNY: That's a good way of viewing it.

    And trust me, it wasn't the criticism that bothered me, just the fact that she thought it was a first draft. I could take the rest of what she said and think I agree with it. I don't know though. I haven't actually sat down yet to re-write that specific chapter.

    In my first chapter, I say that all the characters are necromancers.

    One of them has a vision in the first chapter, another heals someone, and another kills a spider with black lightning that bursts through her finger tips.

    And I said that there are different types of necromancy: the kind that can see the future and speak to ghosts, the kind that kills and curses things, and the kind that ressurects and heals things.

    Obviously this is paraphrasing my text, but I do not go on and on with these explanation. She said that I should just cut out the explanations entirely and have them talk about them in dialogue later or something. I don't know, but they weren't longer than two sentences.
     
  8. VM80
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    VM80 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Don't stop writing... and don't take it to heart, too much.

    I have an editor friend, and her comments are of the 'tough love' variety at the best of times. Editors are like that.

    Consider the advice you've been given. Weigh it up and work hard to improve those areas that you feel need improvement.

    Good luck
     
  9. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    It could be that an editor's first draft is not the same as a writer's first draft. Maybe, to an editor, "first draft" means the first draft she reads; it does NOT mean the first draft the writer wrote. Editors probably expect that any manuscript they receive will have to be revised before they'll publish it, so the writer should understand that the draft he or she first submits will not be the final text. But the editor regards the manuscript she first sees as the "first draft".

    So don't worry about it. You did good work. The editor just wants you to do a little more good work.
     
  10. ThePublishr
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    ThePublishr New Member

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    I agree - don't get disheartened. I've also had similar experiences but arriving at a piece of work they are happy with is a great feeling. Do apply her advice as stopping now may have an effect on your confidence - seeing it through will be great for you. Editors are also quite well known for their harshness, so try not to take it personally. Good luck
     
  11. jpeter03
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    jpeter03 Member

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    I think that this is probably what's going on here. Also, remember that if this editor is giving you their honest criticism you are already ahead of most. Few people get anything REMOTELY that positive and yet they still go ahead and revise and eventually get published. I've submitted one piece and received a reply about a year later(!) and it simply said, "not what we're looking for." I applaud you for putting yourself out there, please don't be disheartened, you're off to a better start than you realize.
     
  12. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    While I do understand how FRUSTRATING that must feel, consider yourself lucky to have the possibility to have a professional editor to look over your ms and give her opinion on it, that is something many of us would like to have. The only thing you can do is taking it as a motivation to work even harder on improving as a writer, remember, it is a profession that it takes a lifetime to learn and the learning process can be almost as stimulating as the actual writing.
     
  13. JackElliott
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    JackElliott Senior Member

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    It is probably because of these criticisms that she said it reads like a first draft. The first two, especially, are very elementary problems that subsequent drafts are supposed to fix.
     
  14. katica
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    katica Senior Member

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    I agree that I should have fixed those things earlier. I just didn't realize they were there until she pointed them out to me, which doesn't upset me.

    Just understand that exactly what you are saying is what upsets me. I expected her to find things wrong with it, but I was hoping she could tell I put some work into it and that it didn't look like I sloppily threw it together in one hour.

    I feel like someone who has been training for the olympics day in and day out for years, all day, every day (that's literally how I write, I've given up my other hobbies), who is being told when they perform their routine: "That's okay for your first day." That's different than: "Your routine needs this and that done to make it better. Just keep doing the same amount of work that I can tell you have done and it should be fine."
     
  15. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    But a first draft isn't something thrown together in an hour, nor is it like one's first day. A writer can spend years on a first draft.

    ChickenFreak
     
  16. popsicledeath
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    popsicledeath Banned

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    So... learn, and improve, and do better next time. What's the problem?

    This is as silly as the people who have a fiction turn in for a class or group and keep bragging it's a first draft. You don't even get bonus points in a class for having a draft better than expected, and sure won't gain such favor in the real world.

    Look, nobody cares whether it's draft number 1 of 2 or 1 of 4,000. Nobody even cares if it's 3,999 of 4,000. To quibble or concern yourself over drafts is simply foolish. And I don't mean it personally. I mean that if you're a writer, the only draft that matters is the next one that is hopefully the final one. To waste any time on what you or anyone else thought about your last draft is, very literally, foolish.

    Yep, your feelings where hurt and a lot of people sympathize with you (some may even empathize). Time to get over it and move on, as if you're a writer, there will always be better things to worry about than your last draft.

    Edit: also keep in mind that to a professional the term first draft means anything that isn't a final draft because most professional writers don't track their drafts like it's some measure of anything important. And often, an editor will call a manuscript a first draft even if it's completely polished, if it's the first draft they've seen; second draft if they see a second, etc.
     
  17. Trish
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    Trish I've been deleted.. again Contributor

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    But she didn't say 'it's okay for your first day' and she DID give you pointers for how to fix it and what to do to make it better. My guess is that you'll work just as hard on implementing the things she told you to fix as you have been all along. So... nothing has changed. You're just not done yet. So she called it a first draft. So what? It's a pretty common phrase in writing, one you're going to have to get used to and you'll just have to try not to be insulted.

    What I would be concerned about is the fact that this is ONE chapter... how are you going to handle the rest? How are you going to handle it if you rewrite it and she still thinks your characters are boring? And you won't even be done then, because when SHE finally likes it and you (probably) start subbing to agents what are you going to do if they tell you to cut half the references to location (we got it already, sheesh) and that your characters are, by the way, just a touch boring. Are you going to chuck it in a fireplace? No, (hopefully) you're going to have a thicker skin by then and just keep working to get better and thank them for their time and input.

    Until it's published it's a work in progress. That's all.
     
  18. psychotick
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    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi Katica,

    I don't mean to sound silly or anything, but when you showed her your writing, what did you describe it as? My guess is that you may have actually said or implied that it was a draft - i.e. an unfinished piece, and she simply responded accordingly. Also she is an editor of some sort, so she probably normally sees drafts, so she might well have simply put it in the same category. Also, you did show it to her wanting her opinion. That alone told her it wasn't your final polished version, so to her it was a draft - and worse - the first draft she had been shown.

    My advice ignore the words 'first draft', that I assume is what she assumed it was even before she read it for all of the above reasons. Concentrate on her critiques and the fact that she said it was ok. Work from that.

    Cheers.
     
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  19. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    Can't add much to what's already been said, except: that feeling you're having right now, because of this, is the feeling of growth. I've worked as an illustrator professionally for 15 years, where I've received feedback on my creative output constantly. The best critique and advice on my work (when looking back) was the one that made me feel heartbroken at the time.
     
  20. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    Katica, if this makes you feel any better, when I was in school, I had an English composition teacher who tore me to shreds in a similar fashion. For the first couple weeks of class I hated her, but by the end of the semester she was one of the most important mentor figures in my life. Her critiques motivated me to work my ass off so hard that I went from being one of the worst students in the class (and I'd always been a top English student in high school - this class was tough) to the best by the end. The year after that, I was her TA and got to help teach the class and make finals and stuff, and we are still contacts and friends to this date (4 years later).

    Long story short, it's harsh and painful at the moment (I was tempted to drop the class on the first day because I felt way over my head) but you can grow so much as a result. If everyone said your work was great, your personal growth and growth as a writer would be stunted now.

    OR, as another possibility, this could just be an agent who wasn't as into your work. Nothing is going to be every single person's cup of tea.

    If you'd like, you can shoot the first chapter to mallory.feedback@gmail.com for a beta read, but give it a few days if you don't mind (I'm swamped already).
     
  21. katica
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    katica Senior Member

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    Thank you very much and I'll keep that in mind.

    Just know that I don't mind the critiquing. Like I said, I agreed with all the critiquing she did.

    I just minded the "first draft" word because if my novel reads like a first draft after all that work and other people critiquing it than I was afraid it will ALWAYS read like a first draft and that I'm just not cut out to do anything decent no matter how much work I put into it.

    I am not at all angry with her, even though she hurt me. Not even a little. Not even while she was saying it.

    And I had piano teachers that were harsher on me than she ever was. It's just feeding into my fear that I will keep writing and writing and writing (which I am still doing right now) and go absolutely nowhere with it.
     
  22. riridoll1
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    riridoll1 New Member

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    Although it was harsh, consider yourself extremely lucky to have such a friend. In fact I wish I had an editor friend =P. Critiques only make you get better so take you're great story and turn it into an amazing story. It is a lot of work and of course NO ONE wants to do excess work, but it will only mold you into something much better. If you really feel like your work is good the way it is, try getting a second opinion and go from there. Good luck =D
     
  23. katica
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    katica Senior Member

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    It's not the excess work or critiquing, like I said in the first post if you read the whole thing.

    Also, it's not that lucky to have a friend like this. First of all, she only read my first chapter. If I want her to read the whole thing, it will cost me money. Second of all, it's not hard to find friends like this. I'm a member of writing groups. Join one and you'll network with published authors and professional editors easier than you think you would.
     
  24. Jessica_312
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    Jessica_312 Contributing Member

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    Katica, I take it you have you had your writing group look at it, too, then? For that matter - you could always post your first chapter here on this forum, there are plenty of people willing to offer advice.

    By the way, I do get where you're coming from, I totally do. It's tough to hear stuff like that when you've been putting your whole heart and soul into your work - trust me, I know. But I agree with what others have said - focus less on the "first draft" portion of your friend's comment and more on the "not bad" part. Whether or not she's an editor, I don't think you can let one person's opinion discourage you, and I also agree that maybe part of the problem is you've taken TOO many people's criticism's to heart and have changed too many things about your story, such that it's become a stripped down version of what it was to begin with? Dig up your "real" first draft, if you can, and try comparing it to what you have now - you might be able to salvage more than you think.

    Furthermore, editors are great, but they don't always know best - I bet all those editors that passed over Harry Potter are kicking themselves now :p
     
  25. Heather
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    Heather Contributing Member

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    Katica, all I'd say is for you to ask yourself, are you happy with your novel? If you're not, then yea, her comment may have struck you as harsh, but you know yourself there is something else you can do with it which will make it better/more interesting/worth an "excellent book" comment noted upon it.

    If you are happy with your work, well then personally, that's the most important thing for you. Sometimes editors and people reviewing your work can suggest so much and so many things that it stops being what you wanted it to be. If you are happy with it, and honestly beleive you can do nothing else to improve, then try and get it published and see what people say. And if you get knocked back, don't take it too personally, sometimes it's just about what the market wants at the time. Afterall, J.K.Rowling got turned down by several publishers before Bloomsbury took her on, and look how that one turned out ;)
     

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