Sure, we can pick up an old manuscript, after weeks or months, and look at it with fresh eyes. We re-read it with the knowledge we've gained in the interim and usually our mistakes glare at us.
But. . . even then, we can't see the entire book as critically and impartially as it needs.
In some ways, we can compare our writing to a theater production. The book is the stage, and the story with its unfolding drama is the production. As writers, we act out the parts of ALL our characters and the more we know each character, the better we can play their parts.
But, because we're on stage and so intimately involved with the inner workings of this production, we can't possibly see the big picture. Only someone who's sitting in the auditorium watching it all come together from the first act to curtain fall can truly view it as it's meant to be seen.
Who's in your audience? Hopefully some day our readers will pack our auditorium. But wouldn't we all like to have a few good critiques before opening night?
Who are we calling on to give us those critiques? Who do we want to invite into the front row to watch and give us the feedback we need? A proud and adoring mother? A second cousin who wants to take up writing some day? A fellow actor who has their own show down the street? Or a stage director who knows the ins and outs of production?
Most likely we'd find something of value in the feedback from anyone watching our show. But who will give us the most helpful insights on how to make the production the best it can be? In other words, whose critique would we trust the most?
This week I'd like to discuss how to get the feedback we need for our books. Specifically I want to talk about the pros and cons of using freelance editors. I liken them to the stage director or theater instructor, the experts with the experience and trained eyes.
However, for today I want to end by saying this: Every writer has to get to the point where we realize we can't go forward alone. Well, I guess we could. . . but then we're taking a huge risk. What if our show is a flop and we don't find out until too late? What if the crowd is bored and leaves during the half-way point? Or worse, what if they boo and hiss at us.
Personally, I'd rather have someone tell me my production stinks long before opening night. I'd like the opportunity to smooth it out and get my characters on cue. I want the chance to cut and add scenes that make the audience laugh and cry in all the right spots. And I want to craft an ending that moves the crowd to their feet with cries for an encore.
I'm convinced we cannot reach that level of skill without feedback, particularly qualified and objective feedback.
What's your opinion? Do you think every writer NEEDS feedback? Was there ever a time when you didn't think you needed it? Why?