O is for Opinion

I think one of the most difficult concepts for writers to accept is that a rejection, bad review, or even a negative critique is simply that one person’s opinion. I can tell myself that, but still my first reaction is “The story sucks,” or “I suck as a writer.”

Of course, if a lot of agents and editors reject a ms, I do need to take a closer look at the ms and see if maybe there is a problem. If the agent or editor gives a reason for the rejection, that helps take the sting out of the process, and may explain why the story was rejected. On the other hand, the generic statement—this does not fit our needs at the moment—tells me nothing. Mentally I always add, because your writing is terrible, Maris, and will never fit our needs.

With a review, how I react depends on who’s reviewing the story and what’s said. I’ve had some reviews in the past where I wondered what book the reviewer read because nothing in the review related to my book. And if the book has received several positive reviews, I usually can shrug off the negative review and tell myself, Well, that’s her opinion

If I submit something to a critique group or to someone I ask to read my ms and give me a critique, my reaction will usually depend on the comments given. If a critique is really negative, I may wonder if they read the same story I wrote, but with a critique group or individual, I can ask questions. “Why do you feel this doesn’t work?”

There are some readers who have a personal bias that influences their reactions. For example, if the reader herself would never consider crossing a police tape barricade to enter a house, who thinks it’s wrong to break the law for any reason, her response that my heroine shouldn’t do so simply reflects her opinion. But if she or several in a critique group have a problem understanding my heroine’s motivation for doing so, then that’s different. That’s something I need to work on so I can change their opinion.

We don’t all like the same things and we don’t all see things in the same way, so a negative reaction to something may simply be that person’s opinion.

And in my opinion, there are a lot of people who took this challenge. Check out the list. A-to-Z Blogging Challenge

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2 Responses to O is for Opinion

  1. ann bennett says:

    The problem with opinions is stepping back and forming an opinion on the opinion.

    I had a screenplay evaluated and it was scathing. I was so depressed. However, as I have continued learning, I am seeing what the problems were and I agree. I just did not know enough about the storytelling process to process the review.

    The only criticism of the review I had was I should have chosen someone who would enjoy a chick flick to read the script. However, I knew the script would have problems. I just knew I had to write something to learn how to write.

    And boy I have learned. One is that writing grammatically correct and entertainingly are two different things. lol

    • Maris Soule says:

      Ann, I like Your “stepping back and forming an opinion on the opinion.” I often need to do that with my current editor. He calls it like it is. When I first get his comments, I grumbled (and sometimes swear), but give it a day or two and I realize one of two things: He’s right and I need to change something or I’m right, but I need to make what I’ve said clearer.