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Author Topic: Need some help on how to politely disagree with a professional  (Read 1100 times)
Spindaddy
Peltast
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Posts: 158


Small god of doughnuts


« on: July 29, 2016, 03:01:57 PM »

So yeah, I wrote a story I thought was good enough to actually *gulp* submit. It needed to be polished first, so I re-wrote, revised, re-wrote, revised and then revised some more. I felt like i finally had something to present to someone to tell me 'hey this is marginally ok, you need to do the following...'

I went to a bunch of friends, they gave me enormous amounts of feed back.. I re-wrote and revised.
Then I spent money on someone who edits professionally for a living...

...and this is where I need help.

So first let me say I got my money's worth. The person was very professional and gave me a ton of advice above and beyond what i expected. They gave me line edits and pointed out where I could improve certain points of the story. This advice is invaluable and they presented it well enough where I'm not completely discouraged to stop writing.

BUT

They sort of missed the plot and theme of the story. It's *supposed* to be a story about hubris and humility. It's supposed to be a story about a man that dares to speak to a god as if they are just another human and as a result, he gets called out. He ends up realizing he should be a bit more respectful and a little more cautious in taking a god's name in vain.

How do I politely disagree with the professional and ask them to re-read the story and realize the subplots they thought were extraneous are central to the story? That some of the changes they are asking me to do changes my story into something completely different from what I was aiming for and not what I want. I also disagree with their assessments of how some of the character interactions should be changed.

On one hand, I feel like I need to tell them 'hey, you missed the point of the story'... but on the other, I feel like maybe I made the mistake and didn't tell the story i thought i was telling.

I'm out of my comfort zone and I don't want to accidentally insult the person, but I do feel like I need to be somewhat assertive.

Thoughts?
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Not-a-Robot
Hipparch
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Posts: 851


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« Reply #1 on: July 29, 2016, 04:03:23 PM »

Hmmm...

A couple things here. How long is the story (word count-wise)? Are we talking novel length or flash fiction? Because if you are asking a professional editor to read it again, and it's long, they may want extra payment.

Stories are very personal, and one person does not hold the monopoly on opinion, what some one feels is extraneous, may be important to others. Personally, I like stories that stick to the point. My favorite books are usually short (Vonnegut, Salinger, ect.). I find King too long-winded, and always want him just to get on with it. On the other hand, even King edits his stuff way down before he sends it to his editor.

Here's my opinion. Just say, 'hey, don't you think that this part is important for the subplot?' That's not insulting, and besides, professionals should have a bit of thick skin. Additionally, I'd give the story to a couple more people. They need not be professionals, but you need people who have never read it before. If they don't get the subplots, then you have a problem with the story and may want to change it a bit to clarify your themes. If everyone else understands the subplot and theme, then the editor missed something.

But, in the end, remember: You are the author. You decide what goes in the story.

Which brings me to my next point, did you know that we have a crit group here? I put a story in last month and got some great advice on it before I submitted. It's a bit slow right now on account of the summer, but we're still kicking and always looking for new members. It's fairly easy to join, all you have to do is ask.
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Kabal
Matross
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Posts: 166



« Reply #2 on: July 30, 2016, 10:54:42 AM »

Are they expecting to get your feedback on their feedback? Usually, any editing I get done I take it, use what I find resonates and discard that which doesn't. If someone misses the point of the story, if you have gotten similar feedback from other readers, then perhaps the point you're trying to get across isn't as clear as you thought. If this is just one person telling you they see a problem in an area no one else did, then that's their opinion.

I payed a somewhat well known writer for a critique on a short story and honestly it was horrible. I pretty much discarded everything they said because it was so obviously colored by their own beliefs and not by the actual content of my story. I'm not saying it was a good story, I know it wasn't. But the feedback they provided was meaningless. That's when I realized just because someone tells you something is wrong with your story doesn't mean they are right. Even if they are a published writer.

It brings to mind this Neil Gaiman quote: "Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong."

There's danger is getting too much input from any one person. You fix what they suggest and have them read it and they will point something else out, rinse, wash, and repeat. It will become their story and not yours.

I second Not-a-Robot. If you're interested join the crit group here. It will give you additional responses and if you see an overarching theme of the critiques then that would likely be a problem area. Try not to change too much based on one person's opinion, even if they are a professional.
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JohnCombo
Guest
« Reply #3 on: August 08, 2016, 11:58:42 PM »

Spindaddy, I want to echo Not-A-Robot about the Crit group and ask that maybe you'd consider posting your story. If it's long, consider posting in chunks.

I know you have a lot of questions to answer from Not-A-Robot and Kabal, so I'll hold off with my own until you can answer them.

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hwaffle
Lochage
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Posts: 390



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« Reply #4 on: September 01, 2016, 11:44:55 AM »

Lots of good points from others, but I'd just add that sometimes an editor is just not the right person for you, the right fit, and that's okay. It's okay to try lots of editors before you find one you like.

Also, if an editor is asking you to remove entirely what you feel is central to the story, you may need to think about getting a different editor! That being said, as others have noted you may just be missing something in reading it yourself. If your other readers didn't feel the same way, then it's just that one editor and that's an issue.
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Spindaddy
Peltast
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Posts: 158


Small god of doughnuts


« Reply #5 on: October 01, 2016, 03:32:07 PM »

Hey all,

Thanks for the advice. I ended up talking to the person and they laughed with me about my anxiety of disagreeing with them. Then they told me that this happens every so often and its perfectly ok to disagree with their assessment. We were able to have a really nice dialogue about what she didn't like, what I wanted to include and where I wanted to go. I also realized just because something doesn't seem plausible to one person doesn't mean it wont resonate with another person. I've slowly been plowing ahead with my ideas and have gone back to the drawing board.

Apologies for taking so long to get back to these forums, but working long hours are not conducive to correspondence.
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Spindaddy
Peltast
***
Posts: 158


Small god of doughnuts


« Reply #6 on: October 01, 2016, 03:55:32 PM »

Which brings me to my next point, did you know that we have a crit group here? I put a story in last month and got some great advice on it before I submitted. It's a bit slow right now on account of the summer, but we're still kicking and always looking for new members. It's fairly easy to join, all you have to do is ask.

I second Not-a-Robot. If you're interested join the crit group here. It will give you additional responses and if you see an overarching theme of the critiques then that would likely be a problem area. Try not to change too much based on one person's opinion, even if they are a professional.

Spindaddy, I want to echo Not-A-Robot about the Crit group and ask that maybe you'd consider posting your story. If it's long, consider posting in chunks.


I'm a terrible person when it comes to crit groups and groups in general. I'm usually solid for about 2 weeks, but then the moon rises, I transform into a were-groundhog and disappear for days or weeks on a rampage through residential neighborhoods that leaves gardens mutilated and destroyed. It wasn't the deer folks... it was me.

Actually no, I just wish it was that easy. The reality of my situation is I'm an IT guy that works in a small company and I have a tendency to get mired in work for weeks at a time on projects I have no voice/choice... bah, I'm sure you all know where that goes. My point is that i spend so much time on either work or family responsibilities, I have a difficult time committing to anything outside of those 2 circles. My free time often is constricted to choices of writing for an hour OR work for an hour on voice acting (I got a face for radio or so I'm told) OR use the internet for some good ol' cat pictures. Most of the time I'm so burnt out the cats win 7 times out of 3.

Anyway, I hate when I disappoint people or can't deliver something I've promised. I've learned the hard way commitment is never something to take lightly and you should never take when something is freely given if you also then can't give something back.

Thank you for your kind words. I appreciate them!
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knigget
Matross
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Posts: 177


Help! Help! I'm being oppressed!


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« Reply #7 on: October 08, 2016, 09:55:13 AM »

It is really, really, really hard write a story in such a way as to map the author's intent to the reader's perception. What the pro has brought you is a data point: a sophisticated reader who did not get out of your story what you thought you put in it. It is a good, solid data point, but it's still one data point. That's all it is.

At this point I'd say you have several options. of which engaging with the pro and disagreeing with them is (IMHO) the weakest. You won't have that luxury with editors to whom you send the story later, and you certainly won't have it with readers of it in its published state.

Option One: decide that the story is done, accept the fact that it says different things to different people, and send it out.

Option Two: get more eyeballs on it and see what other unprepared readers get out of it.

Option Three: do a rewrite based on the pro's feedback, taking it as fully valid, and looking for getting your point across as your desired end point.

Speaking as a pro of sorts, I'd caution against measuring anyone's critique validity by their status. Some of the best edits I've had have been from people no one had ever heard of at that point. (I assure you, you've heard of many of them by now.)

/2c
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