This is a guest post by Jessie Swierski
You have an idea for a story and you have an image of the major character that will bring your story to life. You know how your character views the world and how that character is going to triumph over the dastardly problems and complications you deviously plan to create. Your fingers feverously type, pages become filled, and you print out your baby and hand it over to someone for feedback. With heart pounding anticipation you wait for the gushing adoration that you are positive will come your way, after all, you don’t doubt your reader will love your character and story as much as you.
If you’ve ever handed your story off to another person for feedback, you know that the feedback you receive can vary depending on the person who gives the feedback. One thing I am quickly learning is the need to be true first to my vision, my characters, my story, and myself.
I have given my stories to different readers based on the kind of feedback I was seeking. I deliberately give my stories designed to attract adult women to people in that demographic. Many of these are people who had no idea I have ever typed a story of any kind. I usually don’t give the whole story, just a few critical chapters at a time in order to see if the story resonates with my target readers. I always give a feedback sheet asking if they felt a connection to my main character, the conflict, some of the dialogue, and if the story seems interesting. The feedback I receive helps me tweak the story.
I have also given my stories to other writers. This is when I find the need to dig deep in order to hold on to my vision of the story and characters. Writers have, many times, given me feedback based upon how they would write the story and characters. Writers often do this with everything that is read, and I’ve spoken to other writers who have said they have to work at reading for enjoyment because the tendency to re-write everything happens automatically. I am one of those writers.
I am learning to read the work of other people and try to see the world that has been created through the eyes of the character the other writer has created. When you receive feedback from other people, remember, they may not have been able to get inside of your character’s head and emotions so it is possible the feedback isn’t reflective of the intended direction of the story.
Above all, stay true to your vision.
Jessie Swierski lives in Phoenix, Arizona with her husband, Mike, and one daughter, Alysa. She is blessed with a daughter, Kayla, and son-in-law, Alan, who live in the UK. Jessie is published in the 2013 and 2014 Ink Slingers Anthologies. She is also the author of Because Whispers Matter. You can email Jessie at firstname.lastname@example.org.