Critiques, Reviewing Feedback

One of the most helpful things when I am revising is looking back over the feedback I’ve received on previous drafts of the piece. The challenge I always find myself battling when I get there though, is finding it and the process of reviewing it in a way that helps me during the project.

As I was working last week, I was thinking about the feedback I’d received on the pieces of the story I’d shared with others so far. I’d received a lot of feedback about the moment I’d just revised in the story and even more feedback on the first sister. I also remembered that I’d gotten feedback on the second sister and that was what I wanted to get my hands on most, now that she’d moved to taking turns in the narrator’s seat. Some of the feedback I had was from critique sessions years ago when my critique group was meeting in person and the most recent feedback was from a course I completed online earlier this year. I pulled together all of the various paper copies with notes from where they’d scattered themselves in my files and pulled all of my electronic files together in a folder on my computer. That was the point where I needed to make a decision on what the next step in my process was going to be because when I’d done this in the past, I’d never decided on what the next step should look like. Sometimes when I’d revise, I’d dig through when I came to a moment I wanted to utilize a piece of feedback and other times I’d go to points in the chapters and make notes for later. This time I decided to create a document and make a list of notes about all of the feedback I’d received, with line items for different characters, relationships, moments, etc. I wrote down small summaries of questions people had thrown out that made me think that I wanted to explore as I revised scenes and wonderings people had that made me pause and reconstruct a scene. It felt so good to get it all in one place and I’m excited to see how it serves me as I continue through this revision.

This week I am going to finish the current chapter/scene I am in. I haven’t yet found a rhythm to balancing the interview project I’m doing and my writing and I’m finding it hard to keep myself in this revision. I think my biggest hurdle with this project is that I am splitting it into a dual POV (point-of-view) and my brain wants me to believe that I am going to struggle with it because I haven’t done it before. I know what the story needs, I know how it will be written, and I know what the POV’s need to be to serve this story well. Moving forward I need to keep those truths close in order to stop being blocked in my work. Once I get through these first scenes with the second sister in the narrator’s seat, I will be able to build momentum and stay in that rhythm with the story. The scene I’m currently working though is directly after the big moment in the sister’s lives and there is a beat coming up where the second sister is going to be with the antagonist in a way that readers didn’t get to see in the draft before. It’s going to put the danger directly in the second sister’s lap and we’re going to know that she knows exactly how real that danger is moving forward. It’s a moment the first sister could only paint for the reader in her mind and now we get to see it play out with all of the red flags and tension on display. The scene after cuts right back to the first sister’s POV and pulls the reader back to watch as the second sister moves through the world with this moment and awareness of the antagonist fresh in her mind. It’s going to serve the story so well and I cannot wait to write it.

In case you haven’t been told today, you are more than enough.

With you words, Nikole

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