By Kathy Lipscomb
I’ve been in a lot of critique groups, and I’ve recently noticed something about authors. We hate making drastic changes to our novels even if it’ll improve it. It shouldn’t surprise me, because people in general hate change.
And what’s different from change in life to changing something big in our manuscripts? Nothing. We created these worlds and the characters. Why would we want to change it? It’s hard.
When you get a suggestion you don’t like, don’t resist it. You don’t have to accept it, but think about it. There have been plenty of times in my life where I received advice I did NOT like, so I ignored it. But eventually, I learned to think about it. Some suggestions didn’t work for my novel, so after careful consideration, I didn’t make the change. However, some of the advice I was most resistant to have improved my novels so much, I was stunned.
The other thing that stops us from making needed drastic changes, is the work. We’ve already put in so much work—why would we want to basically do it all over again?
I had a novel that was written in third person and the flow just wasn’t there. After critiques, a lot of thought, and a lot of banging my head against the keyboard over what I knew I needed to do, I rewrote the entire thing in first person. The voice and flow were so much better. My critiques came back with more positives than negatives. It was the right thing to do in my case.
I’ve seen this a lot with many authors. Recently, I gave a suggestion to a member in one of my critique groups (an amazing writing buddy) to think about writing her novel in 3rd person instead of 1st. The 1st person was fine, but something about the style and voice felt like it would be stronger in 3rd person. She wrote me an email several days later. She told me that her response to my suggestion was, “Oh, no way! First of all, I couldn’t see that it would make any difference and second, that is a TON of work.” She then told me that she was on a writer’s forum where she told them my suggestion and the whole forum blew up with protests, all saying that it was crazy and too much work.
My friend then said that experience made her realize something. People who want their best work published put in the effort no matter what it is.
Making drastic changes is hard work and not typically a fun thing to do. But if it makes your novel better, it’s worth it. Don’t resist big change. Let the idea marinate for a few weeks, and make the decision based on what’s best for your novel.