As I combed through the comments, many of which were dead on about problems I needed to correct, it became clear that, in some instances, differences in genre preferences in me and my readers affected the critique. If a reader isn’t as familiar with the genre they’re critiquing, this might alter how they see a story. For example, in romance, happily ever after is pretty much a must. However, many other genres don’t include it as a prerequisite of a book. There’s nothing wrong with this, but it’s important to understand these genre differences, especially before altering a work based on feedback.
Now, this doesn’t mean having a reader less familiar with your genre is bad. It’s actually a wonderful thing. A reader from a different genre will see things that might strengthen a work that a reader from your genre might not catch. It can add texture to a story to include elements more common in other genres. Of course, it’s important to make sure these texture add rather than detract, but they can be highly interesting at the least.
I’ve been writing for a long time, and I’ve been submitting my work for critique for many years. Some of the early critiques I got still sting. I don’t recall what most of them actually said, but I vividly remember trying to hold make tears and keep a brave and unaffected face while feeling like my work was torn to shreds. I knew there was value in what I wrote, but it felt like almost nobody else saw that. Of course, there were problems that needed fixing, and each critique revealed some. But, now, looking back, I can see that some of the negative feedback came, not so much from something innately wrong with the work, but differences in genre expectations and style.
Above all else, though, whatever the reason for negative feedback, whether it’s a difference in genre style or something really wrong with a work, the most important thing to do with critique is to take that step back and view the work as objectively as possible. Emotion must drive the creative aspect of writing, but it cannot determine the direction of edits and revisions. I am grateful to all my readers for their faith in me and their honesty. Without either, I would not have come as far as a writer and a person. In the long run, no matter how many books I sell or how much success I achieve, I will owe my readers a deep debt of gratitude for caring enough to be honest and honest enough to express their faith in me as a writer, even when I struggled to see it and even amidst those difficult critiques.
To my wonderful readers, thank you.
Reminder: Starting next week, this blog will only post on Mondays and Wednesdays. Have a safe and wonderful Labor Day weekend.