Getting outside feedback is very important for any story. Even the best authors have editors. However, it’s always something that can be a bit frightening.
Let’s face it, an author puts so much work into their story that they can’t help but get attached to it. The story becomes like the author’s child. This naturally creates an element of ego, making the author not always able to see the flaws and problems with the story, and reluctant to make certain changes. This is where an outside reviewer can be useful, to find those changes that the author cannot.
Of course, it’s also difficult to hear criticism. Thanks to this element of ego, even the most constructive criticism can be unpleasant for an author. I’d say every author gets attached, but the better authors know when they have to step away from this attachment. Many bestselling authors have said that they wouldn’t be so successful without their editors.
Additionally, the author knows the story from beginning to end at the start. I know every detail about the stories I’ve written, the world they take place in, and the characters, including some things that don’t get put in the story (not every detail is relevant, and too many unnecessary details take away from the important parts). However, I might occasionally slip up, and forget to include some important detail in the text. Knowing said detail already, I may not catch it, but a reviewer who has not read the story will be confused by its omission, and bring it to my attention.
This way, I also get genuine reactions to certain parts of the plot, like if the twist was indeed a surprise, or could be seen coming a mile away, or perceptions of a character, whether a certain scene was as emotional as I intended, and much more.
Though there is also an issue of trust. These days, I only allow people who have earned my complete trust to review my stories. For one thing, if I allow strangers to review an unpublished story, there’s always a chance they’ll steal it, claim it as their own, and there would be nothing I could do about it. Plus, strangers may not give good criticism; they might simply say they liked it, or the story sucks, rather than explaining why. And they shouldn’t be quite so blunt if they do think it sucks. I believe almost any story can be made good, if reviewed and edited properly.
Additionally, feedback can help me to learn for future stories. I generally write what I want, and not what other people want, but considering what people like and dislike helps me to learn my strengths and weaknesses, and may influence me to write a story slightly differently, not to pander to the audience, mind you, but to play to my strengths, and ultimately make a better story.
Although getting feedback is super important, it is no substitute for the author reviewing the story as well. Just as there are many problems the author may have difficulty finding, there are other issues only the author can find, such as anything to do with the author’s intentions and feelings, and things which may not be easily explained to a reviewer or editor. In general, it has to feel right.
Because of that, I’ve generally made it a rule to read the whole thing over myself a few times before I show it to anybody.
Additionally, due to this great need for feedback, I really do appreciate any comments on my posted stories and reflections. Thanks! Well, now that I’ve said what I have on the topic, I need to go prepare something for next week. This is White Rakogis saying goodbye for now.