I was posed the following question by a friend: At what point do you take writing advice and start completely over or just leave it be?
I sent her this email in reply:
Your question today hit my I'm-passionate-about-this button: Critiques. Ugh! They are horrible, huh? A necessary evil just like editing. I cried after my first three or four crits. Now, I've built up tough skin and crits aren't as bad anymore. Not like the dagger twisting in my heart.
There's a fine line with critiques.
Meaning, they are ABSOLUTELY important to have and to feast upon there wisdom.
But!!!! BUT BUT BUT! Did I emphasize that well enough?
You have to remember that it's YOUR book. Not theirs!!! You are the one who is passionate about the story. Therefore, you can take what they say with a grain of salt or devour it like its the most delicious bowl of ice cream. Ever!
For the most part, my critique partners/betas have been amazing, even if what they told me was hard to take. Ie: One of them told me I had to take out one scene in my book. I fought it. Hard! But in the end, I knew I had to cut it cuz it didn't push the plot forward at all. Yet, some things my most trusted CP's have told me, I didn't use because it didn't fit in with the vision of my book.
Like I said, my books are MY BOOKS. I hone them in through having others read them, but if I don't like their SUGGESTIONS, I don't have to use them.
And having lots of different crits is IMPORTANT BEYOND IMPORTANT. It gives you an idea of what your story really lacks or does well. As in if two, three, four people say you need to work on imagery or showing, not telling then you can be assured it is a good idea to revamp those things. One persons crit isn't the end of the world. If you want to brush thier SUGGESTIONS off your shoulder than DO! That's your right as the author. Although, if you feel they are valid points, then maybe you should go back through the book ONCE YOU ARE DONE and fix it.
That brings me to my next point: If you feel this person's SUGGESTIONS are valid then from the point you're writing now start putting them into action. Does that make sense? Then go back. The first draft of a book is supposed to be rough. It's not supposed to be perfect. Yet! That's what revisions and edits are for. The important thing is to get it on paper in its entirety. If you keep going back, then you are never going to finish it.
Have you noticed, I've been capitalizing suggestions a lot. Why? Because crits are not the god-of-all-knowledge-and-this-is-how-it-HAS-to-be type thing. They are ideas that others feel may make it better. Sometimes they hurt, sometimes they don't. All I can say is my book wouldn't almost be in the hands of publishers if I hadn't bit the bullet and embraced them. And even with an agent, I've had to take her advice--even had to write a new ending (of which I LOVE LOVE LOVE).
So what are your thoughts or advice about critiques?