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  • Kayleigh

Friday Tip: Feedback is Subjective

The end of August was a bit of a hassle with some emergency vet visits (all good now!), so after a brief hiatus from the Friday Tips, I'm back!

Writers, you don’t have to accept every edit or suggestion offered on your manuscript.

While you may not have as much wiggle room to disagree when it comes to style guides and grammar, when it comes to your characters, plots, themes, and world, YOU have the final say.

If we followed one another on TwiX, you may or may not have seen tweets from me that noted that being able to receive feedback is as much an important skill as giving feedback, and that both of those skills are important in the writing journey.

Part of this is learning that you can choose not to incorporate feedback if you feel it isn't in the best interest of your story or characters.


A Little Anecdote

I remember when one of my short stories was accepted for publication, the editor sent back revisions and wanted to cut a line as they didn't think it was important. I explained that that one small detail, subtle though it was, showed that my highly depressed and failing-to-function MC was in fact still paying attention, did care, and was doing her best. They said, "Oh yeah, I can see it."


The truth is that while an editor, beta reader, or other professional should come with the intention of helping to polish your story or manuscript, feedback is (most times) subjective.

We all see and read differently—if we didn’t, the world would be a lot less colorful. An editor may not understand nuances of different cultural, medical, or familial backgrounds from their own and misinterpret an action or event. A reader may have a personal trigger or bias that causes them to perceive a character differently than intended.

No one knows your story quite like you do.

If you receive feedback from a reader or editor that you find questionable or outright disagree with, you have choices. You can 1) ignore that feedback entirely if you feel so strongly against it, or 2) ask more about the feedback, why the reader/editor felt as they did, why you disagree, and what may be done instead.

Remember: This is your story to tell. The people you hire or trust should be there to lift it, never to control it.

Your turn to share.

Have you ever received feedback that you disagreed with? How did you approach it?

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