One-star reviews should be the antithesis of what writers crave. I know they were for me. My ego needed to see those five star reviews pouring over my work. Getting the accolades of the readers became a way for me to measure my worth.
Yesterday my debut novel, RUN, received a one-star review. The review was short and to the point and that point has been haunting me for the last 24 hours. The words were not mean spirited. The words were not rude. The words did cut to through the rhetoric of the accolades and forced me to look at my writing from a new perspective.
The review came just before I read Ellen Brock’s posting about how to show instead of tell. The two have challenged me to rework the first novel, to refocus the next novel and to make a request from those that read the writings of their author friends and family.
First, the rework:
According to the review I used the word “smile” too much. I did search and quit counting after the first several chapters. The reviewer was right – my characters do smile too much. I am reviewing the article once again and will be implementing the tips from Ellen to bring a new life to the characters and to the novel.
Second, the refocus:
The underlying story behind the Big Spring novels has stayed disguised – maybe a little too much. Part of it has been a concern of the reaction. Most of it has been a fear of the response. I challenged another writer to “write naked” at a conference recently. Until I am willing to put it all out there, it might be better left in the pot simmering. I intend to bring some light to the shadows of that underlying story through the next book and through the related YA novel currently in production.
Last, the request:
We writers – at least this writer – have these stories and characters living in our heads. Sometimes the relationships have been growing for decades. We can see them living out the plots. We can hear them sharing conversations. They are intimate to us. Because of this, we miss things – like a lot of smiling – because it is a natural part of that character to us. We do need your encouragement and support, but your honest, unfiltered opinion will take us a much further distance towards reaching our writing dreams.
The one-star review punched me in the gut, or maybe it was more like a slap in the face that wakened me from my stupor. I have a plan. I have a direction. And I have a new determination to boldly write.
How do you respond to reviews?
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Kathryn C. Lang shares words of hope and encouragement over at her website, Kathryn Lang. Stop in and visit today, connect with her on Facebook, or follow her on Twitter. “It is all about building relationships, so let’s connect today.”