A Professional’s Opinion


First. I got tagged in the Lucky 7 Meme by Stephanie Sinkhorn. I’ve already done it, so if you want to read it, go here.

So Yesterday I attended the SCBWI Dakota Conference. It was a small event with only about 30 people, but we had three great speakers. Author Cindy Kane, Illustrator Carrie Hartman and Editor Brian Farrey-Latz from Flux—the young adult imprint of Llewellyn Worldwide.

Writing is a balancing act

Brian’s presentation was the one with the most information that pertained to me. He’s a dynamic speaker and is fun to listen to. One thing he spoke about was making sure we’re balancing the plot—the action, with the internally emotions of the main character.
Apparently this is one of my problems with FROSTY.
I signed up for the 15 minute manuscript critique session with Brian. (My first 1500 words) This was so cool because as I said, he’s an actual editor at a publisher that works solely with YA.
Some of the ladies there (ladies cause there were only 3 men out of 20 and 2 were speakers) were nervous about their critique. I wasn’t nervous, but I hoped it wasn’t going to be ALL negative.
He had some good things to say and of course pointed out the negative. Overall I was happy to hear what he said and the bad stuff didn’t surprise me.
Three months ago, I got a critique from someone else in the industry and she commented that things were moving too slowly at the beginning. And that I had too many inner thoughts. So I revised and deleted 12,000 words. I think I went overboard. It wasn’t balanced.
Setting and description isn’t my strong suit to begin with, but I cut too much of what I did have at the beginning. Many of the places where I cut are where Brian suggested I add more detail. I’m not going to bring back everything I cut because the key is balance. I just need a little more to establish my setting.
I also need to add some more internal thoughts. No big conversations, but just a line or two every occasionally.
After I met with Brian, I skimmed through his comments. Most of them are about adding a detail or two. Or to take a few lines and move them out of their current spot to somewhere else.
It was a lot of great comments and I’m glad I decided to do the critique. Even though it was a one day conference and didn’t have a lot of attendees, I learned a lot and met a ton of new people.
Now time to get back to work.
Have you ever had an editor or a literary agent critique your work? How did it go?

8 Responses

  1. I’m glad you had a good time!

    I had a critique with a published author a year and a half ago at the big SCBWI conference in LA. That was so valuable! I couldn’t believe how much she was able to tell me based only on my first ten pages and a synopsis. I went home, completely rewrote the book, and that led to me signing with an agent. So yes, getting critique from people who know what they’re talking about can be *extremely* valuable. 🙂

  2. Feedback from pros is INVALUABLE.

    I think we get swayed by the preferences of our writing pals, when we need to look really hard at what sells – but, at the same time – different editors will have different opinions, too.

  3. I’ve had published authors but not agents or editors. That’s got to be so awesome.

    I struggle with the internal stuff too. Usually my betas point out those are the things I need to add in.

    1. I had thought myediting with FROSTY was done, but now I’ll have to go back and probably print the whole thing out so maybe I can see other problem areas. I hope I can pick them out too from the other 50,000 words. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to get your whole ms critiqued from an editor like that?

  4. I’ve had both–an editor from Harpercollins and a few agents in my last querying round. What’s funny is that they both contradict. The editor told me I was moving to slow and that we needed more answers, so I rewrote and then the critique from agents was that I was moving to fast… So now I’m hopefully working at a good balance, LOL!

    GREAT post. I think the most important thing is to trust your gut. You know how the story is supposed to be written. (Though feedback from professionals IS verrrry nice!)

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