What Do I Do With This Feedback?
23 May 2014
The topic today comes from Mark (@slavetothehat on Twitter), friend, fellow game designer, and cartographer par excellence.
You’ve written a thing, and you’ve sent it to your editor on a wing and a prayer. Now it has returned to you. It stares at you in your inbox. Is that growling you hear?
You open it, and the flood of red ink threatens to drown you in its crimson embrace. Oh god, what have I done? How shall I press on?
Step 1: Breathe
Seriously, take a moment. Breathe. Relax a bit. Remember that you hired your editor to help you. To polish your words. To sharpen them to a razor’s edge. Sharpening and polishing aren’t pleasant experiences. There’s heat, friction, and maybe even a little pain. It’s okay; this is part of the process.
You’re probably dealing with a lot of emotions. Those emotions should let you know that this is a thing you care about (it is, right?). It’s a sign that you’re doing what you set out to do. You had an idea. You wrote it down. This is someone telling you how to make sure it looks, sounds, smells, feels the way you intend. That’s good, right?
Step 2: Read the Comments
See what I did there? Now that you’re hopefully calm and have your emotions under control, read through the feedback. Most editors I know (myself included) give you a summary of what they thought of the manuscript. Use this as context, and then read through the manuscript. Don’t worry about what you said wrong. Look at why how you said it wasn’t as good as it could have been. There may be things that you disagree with your editor on. That’s fine. Mark it down as something to discuss with your editor later. We’re not word tyrants or grammar nazis. We’re guides, having a conversation with you about your manuscript. You may need to take breaks while you’re working through this. That’s sometimes necessary.
Step 3: Think and Make a Plan
Don’t just wade into the next draft. Take time to think about what your editor said. You may need to figure out a new approach. Some manuscripts may require a restructure. Step 4: Do ItMake a plan (even if it’s just a mental one) of how you’re going to revise this thing that you’ve put work into and that now needs refinement.
Step 4: Do It
You’ve got a plan. Execute it. Do the second draft. Simple as that.
I know it was hard to hear some of this, but I still love you, and your manuscript will be the better for it. Now get out there and write, revise!
Think I’m barmy or want to stroke my ego? Tweet at me. Send me an email. You know where to find me.