Critism vs Encouragement

One of my critique partners, Kim, asked if I’d swap books to critique and I happily agreed.  She basically said several friends/people she knows recently read her novel and they all loved it.  Now she wants a more critical evaluation.  As I read her book, I can see places that are excellent and I can see places that need to be strengthened.  She will do the same with my book.  Those of us who write all the time can usually suggest improvements to each other. 

The situation is difficult though because every writer wants encouragement more than critism.  Every one of Jane’s and my friends and family members who have read Secrets of the Kalaghata have loved it.  The latest opinion is from my brother who said he found it compelling, so compelling that he stayed up way too late reading it.  This from a guy who doesn’t usually read fantasy and has always been careful with compliments (like the time when someone asked if he liked her dress and he said the “color” was nice).  For me, his comment about our book meant a lot and was very encouraging!  

The reason why I’m blogging about this is because I’m rethinking the revisions for Secrets that Jane and I have been contemplating as suggested by Jessica Garrison.  I wonder:  Are all those revisions really necessary?  Or do we just need to find another editor who likes the book the way it is?  Afterall, our friends and family love it. 

Is this realistic thinking? 

Does Jess as an editor have so much more experience that when she read the first 10 pages she really knows whats best?  Maybe.  It is her job.

I called my friend Annette for advice.  I read to her what Jess had written in my critique–the part where Jess described what she thought the plot of the book was; and Annette said, “but that isn’t the plot.” 

Annette is right, what Jess thought would be the plot, isn’t. 

I didn’t have the clarity of thought when meeting with Jess to tell her the story was different, more complex.  Chalk that up to being a bit overwhelmed with the situation and with a lack of confidence in myself.  Instead, I thought what Jess suggested, “should” be the plot–or at least the plot of the first book and that Jane and I should more/less write a prequel to the book we have.  

Now, some weeks later, I’m not convinced.  I don’t think there is “enough”  with that plot to carry an entire book and I don’t want to spend the time to do it that way.  So the bottom line is:  I believe the beginning of our book needs to be revised but that is all.  

I’ll get a few more opinions and hope to balance the critism with encouragement.

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