Receiving feedback from your manuscript is not terrifying is confusing!

You would think that receiving feedback from your manuscript can be scary, discouraging, etc. But I’ve concluded that in my case, it was only confusing.

How do you filter the good advice from the bad one?

From the four people I asked to read my manuscript, I got feedback from two. We´ll call them reviewer A and B.

First of all, let me thank A and B for all their time and patience (in case they read this post). But their points of view were so different in some aspects, that it only got me confused. Now, reviewer A and B have experience writing, critiquing and even publishing.

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The following are only some of the many aspects they pointed out. They only agreed on the first one, but I happen to disagree with them in that one 🙂

Background

Too much background at the beginning of a story is not good. People will get bored, you need to go to the point, and start telling your story, etc. Have you heard this advice? I swear I’ve seen this advice on all books, writing manuals, guides, tutorials, webinars, I laid my hands on.

Reviewer A would like to have more background from my main character at the beginning. Reviewer B agrees that it’s not a bad idea at all. But what about the advice I heard on other sources? I believe I’ve given my MC the main and necessary background, I don’t believe he needs more, but now I’m confused. What’s your take on this? 

Adverbs

I’ve been trying to omit them as much as possible. It´s not natural for me, I guess I´m used to them when speaking. They seem to flow in my writing very easily (ha! two adverbs there, one after each other, that wouldn’t happen in my manuscript, not ever.)

But then I got very different stands on this:

  • Reviewer A said I should try to get rid of all adverbs (I must admit I left maybe around 20 adverbs in my whole manuscript. We´re talking about 20 words in 85000, is not bad, right? I felt those left were the ones that needed to exist or else the sentences would sound awkward.)
  • Reviewer B suggested some changes in sentences, most of his suggestions included newly introduced adverbs. I commented this situation to reviewer B. He said he didn’t see any point in getting rid of them.

confused

Use of was/were or any expression of the verb “To be”

OK, I also got this one from writing texts, books, guides, blogs, etc. Avoid using the “be” verb, it only stops the narration, it slows it down, it makes it look lazy, etc. So I tried to use it as few as possible. It’s difficult, and I must admit my manuscript still has lots of them. But now, I’m confused on what to do with them, because I got this feedback:

  • Reviewer A emphasized to reduce the number of those sentences even more.
  • Reviewer B said “It’s not necessary. It doesn’t make sense.”

My main confusion

I want my writing to be the best as possible. The first advice you get if you want to be published is “master your craft.” (that means your writing.)

Of course, I would love to be published someday, traditionally or self-publish, any of those. Now, I´ve been picking many best sellers, flipping through their pages, and most of them are riddled with adverbs, “to be” forms, etc. So how important is to get rid of them?

Reviewer A said the story had potential and reviewer B found many plot holes. Do you think this should give me a hint that they’re very different readers/writers?

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My Conclusion

I’m going to review my manuscript one more time, one more round. I know I can do it better. I know there are some parts of the plot that need to be improved. I know that characters could be better developed. I know that punctuation needs to be perfected. I know that I can still reformulate some sentences to avoid adverbs and the “to be” forms. But I don´t want to overwrite the whole thing.

I have a queue of at least two dozen story ideas that I can´t wait to start writing about. Yesterday, I actually started writing a short story. I felt relieved to create other characters, other situations, and get away from my manuscript story for a while. I’ve invested many months in my current manuscript and I feel I need to move on to writing other stories. I’m willing to accept that if this one doesn’t get published, maybe the next one will be. Perhaps in the future, I will take my manuscript from a hidden box and review it again. Maybe I’ll make it better, with an improved perspective. (Of course, the manuscript won´t be in a box, since it only exists as digital, so it’ll probably be a hidden computer folder, but some writers like to believe that our manuscripts are physical tangible objects, bear with me in this one 😉

Do you ever get this feeling? Tired of a particular story or characters and that you’d rather start writing another story?

How do you relate to these editing aspects? What would be the best advice you can give me? I’m really looking forward to hear from you.

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10 thoughts on “Receiving feedback from your manuscript is not terrifying is confusing!

  1. Yeah, I’ve also seen lots of best sellers with tons of adverbs in there. For dialogues I’m making exceptions, and I’ve used adverbs and to be verbs in there, people use them when they talk so I think it should be natural to have dialogue lines with them included.
    Do you mean that in order for your manuscript to be taken into account, you have to demonstrate that it has been reviewed at least three times? I haven’t heard that before, interesting.
    I also believe that at the end, it’s your work, your baby as you say :), and each writer has his/her own voice and way of expressing on paper.
    Thanks for commenting and stopping by my blog.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, I didn’t mean that you absolutely have to revise three times. It was an editor who stated this. I think she meant that because there’s three types of editing that should be done, it would be that many revision. There’s the development editing, the line editing, and the copy editing. I’m thinking of using Jeri Walker for the professional editing. (http://jeriwb.com/) She has a page that outlines the different editing phases. I’m not sure if I’ll use all of her service though.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m writing my first novel. I’ve read oodles of advice on how to write so the reader stays engaged. Yes, adverbs usually aren’t necessary, although as I read best sellers I see adverbs sneaked in. Many of these authors use adverbs that don’t have the “ly” or something like that. They find other words to use. Now if you only have 20 within 85000 words, I’d say you’re doing just fine. From what I’ve read, the “is” and “was” should not be used, EXCEPT when in dialogue. People talk using those two words and it’s natural to do so. I’ve also read that a manuscript that isn’t revised in some way or fashion three times probably won’t be picked up. I didn’t know if this is true or not.

    Your beta readers/editors are giving you their perception of your writing. You don’t have to take their advice. It’s there only for you to consider. It’s your baby, not their’s.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It’s tough. You don’t want to say “all critiques are suggestions and follow your own path” because that negates getting critiques.

    I’ve found that as long as you’re not leaning on to be verbs, you’re ok. If you’re not using adverbs as a crutch, you’re fine.

    I actually find the complete lack of to be verbs to be tiring. And lack of adverbs to feel forced. English has these words for a reason.

    But that doesn’t help the odd back and forth between critiques

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I’m willing to leave the adverbs and the to be verbs when I feel there’s no better way to replace them. As you say, I’ve seen some of my sentences sound odd when I try to omit these words.
      Thanks for your comment and for stopping by 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I have reviewed many books and edited some freelance. It’s always best to start in the middle of some action and to insert background into the action, showing rather than telling. This is what grabs a reader’s interest and maintains that interest.

    As far as adverbs, don’t take that advice too seriously. The hatred for adverbs comes from Stephen King’s On Writing, and in the sentence in which he warns against them he uses several himself. The idea is that some writers use too many adverbs because they don’t know how to emote through action. For example if you say “he slammed the door,” that’s enough. You don’t need to say “he slammed the door angrily,” the anger is implied in the slamming. But adverbs are necessary at times and to omit them entirely can make writing come across as unnatural.

    As far as which reviewers to heed, it’s best to know something about your reviewers. Everything about them -their background, socio-economic status, location- can influence what they have to say. Obviously you want your story to appeal to a majority, but a person who’s never been to California can’t really tell you your description of a sunset there is all wrong. Your job is to make others see that sunset they can’t see themselves and not everyone is qualified to tell you if your description is adequate, though they can tell you if they find it boring.

    I’d answer at more length but I’m out of time!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks so much for your comment, it’s really helpful. I guess I´m just going to leave the adverbs aside for a while (Yeah, I know, I still have Stephen King´s voice in my head – from the Audiobook On Writing). Both of my reviewers told me they´re not much into the genre I wrote (Young Adult/New Adult espionage thriller) but it´s very hard to find people to review/beta read your manuscript so I was really happy when they accepted it. Do you think I should try to find someone who reads more into my genre?

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Just from your descriptions, it sounds like Reviewer B is the more experienced editor of the two–is that the case? People who are relatively new to writing or publishing tend to be more bogged down with rules like “don’t use adverbs” and “avoid to be verbs.” Guidelines like these are really only that–guidelines.

    I think at this stage in the revision process, it might be most helpful to focus on any developmental advice these editors gave: how did they feel about the plot? the characterization? the overall structure of the narrative? Focusing on these items can greatly improve the overall quality of the book. As you rewrite, concentrate on the plot inconsistencies that Reviewer B noticed and build from there.

    I hope this is helpful!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You have an interesting point of view, now that you mention it, it gives me a different perspective. I´m going to concentrate on the plot as much as possible. Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving a comment!

      Liked by 1 person

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