Sometimes, we need to take a close, hard look at our writing and shape and reshae it until it sings and dances. Doing this isn’t easy. Here’s some helpful advice from an online article published by Writer’s Relief, a well-established submission and critique service:*
Go with your gut: When something doesn’t feel right in your writing, it’s always tempting to ignore your instincts and to “go with the voice that’s saying it’s good enough as is…. Listening to your instincts can yield bigger, more surprising results than playing it safe.”’
Create your own critique: Act like an editor and analyze your work with an eye toward improving it. If your instincts tell you your main character is weak and needs to be fleshed out, then jot this down. Be honest about identifying strengths and weaknesses. “In print, the steps you need to take become concrete, clear, and un-ignorable.”
Consult a critique partner: If you find it hard to view your writing clearly, ask a trusted reader for help. “Ask specific, pointed questions: ‘Does the ending feel lackluster to you? Is my main character too passive? What makes you say that?’ If your reader hints at or alludes to the same elements that you’re questioning, then it may be time to revise. But keep in mind that all readers bring their own perspectives to their critique, and ultimately you might not agree.”
Be bold and delete passionately: Reframe your view of revising. “Don’t think of deleting as ‘taking away’ or ‘breaking down.’ Think of it as an act of bravery that ‘makes room’ and ‘sets a foundation for expansion.’ If you’re not 100% sure a scene or a line is working, get rid of it completely. Don’t even look at it again (of course, you may want to save it somewhere for future reference). By starting with a truly blank slate, you’re either going to discover something totally new and wonderful, or you’ll find out that you had it right the first time.”
Take a break: Sometimes is really helps to hit the “pause” button on a project. “Taking a break isn’t lazy. In fact it can be very hard to make yourself step away from your work for a while.” Even so, the benefits can be enormous.
Self-critiquing is a valuable skill to be honed as we all write on.
* Writer’s Relief, “How To Be More Objective About Your Own Writing.”
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