Friday, November 19, 2010

It's All Subjective. Really.

I’m querying right now, so I’m sorry, but it’s all I can think about. Last night I had my SFF crit group look over my first ten pages again.

One guy didn’t like the way I introduced the characters. He wanted more info about why they treat each other the way they do in the opening scene. He didn’t like the main character because she continuously failed at a very difficult task and soldiered on, not letting the failures get to her because she knew she would be able to do it eventually.

Another guy liked the introduction of the characters. He wanted to read on so that he could figure out why they treat each other the way they do. He liked the main character because she continuously failed at a very difficult task and soldiered on, not letting the failures get to her because she knew she would be able to do it eventually.

Both of these gentlemen’s opinions are valid and I respect what both of them have to say. They read the same 10 pages, even had the same exact reasons, but had differing opinions.

Can you say “frustrating”?  (No seriously, a lot of people say “fustrating” and it makes me want to kick them in the shins.) I try to take comfort in the fact that they both at least saw Miranda’s tireless commitment to the task and were affected by how the characters interacted, even if they had different reactions to it.

The writing business is subjective. We’re all told that; it’s hammered into our heads – especially by form rejection letters. No one’s opinion is “wrong,” by the very definition of the word.

I even hear rumors of people who don’t like THE HUNGER GAMES (‘tis true! though I’m not sure what kinds of people these are). I seem to be the only person in the world who didn’t care for THE TIME TRAVELLER’S WIFE and I’m getting to the point where I don’t want to see a movie if Johnny Depp is in it.

So when we get that rejection that really stings and only says “Not right for us,” we must remember that the phrase “it’s subjective” is not simply lip-service. It’s not just something people say to make us feel better.

It’s a Truth.

3 comments:

  1. Not just A truth, but THE truth! It's why crit groups can sometimes do more harm than good: you try to respond to all the critiques, good and bad, and end up sucking all the originality and subtlety out of your story. But let's face it, the first 10 pages are SUPPOSED to raise questions rather than answer them, are SUPPOSED to reveal characters' flaws as well as their strengths. That's the conflict. That's why we read on.

    Good luck with the queries!

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  2. Fantastic post! I needed to hear this. Thanks, Sarah and congrats on your request!

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  3. Oh, yeah - The Query Coaster! The thrills and chills await at every submission. Be sure to buckle your seatbelt, it's gonna be a bumpy ride. I' find tequila helps.

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