What if I have an ugly baby and don’t know it?

How can you edit a book you love? My critique partners will attest to my ability to be a nitpicky line editor, so I have no problem doing the same with my own writing. What I’m having a problem with is looking at the plot objectively.

My novel?
My novel?

I wrote this story. I like this story. Correction: I love this story. But do I love this story like a mother loves her child—no matter what? Or am I right to love this story? Does it deserve my love?

If I had written the story just for myself, I wouldn’t even question this. My goal, however, is to see this novel published, therefore I don’t have the luxury of not questioning.

That brings me to another question.

I plan to ask both writers and non-writers to beta-read this novel. What if those who are just readers like the plot, but the writers find problems with it? Or vice versa? Whose opinion should I value more?

Bah! I’m just borrowing trouble, now!

24 thoughts on “What if I have an ugly baby and don’t know it?

  1. As a complete non-professional, I say you’re over-thinking this. We love our kids whether or not they’re ‘successful.’ We do what we can to help them and we stop when there’s no other help to give.

    Let it be and worry about it (including your beta readers) IF it happens.

    Standy uppy now. 🙂


  2. That question is why I’m going over my whole plot Thursday.
    While I enjoy writing each scene — does the whole story add up? Is it satisfying?

    As for your question: advice is advice, regardless of its source. I’d bet you get a wide array from writers and readers alike [and all the writers are readers… and on my first read I try to be ‘just’ a reader.]


    1. I wish I could have selective amnesia … for just a few days, so I could read my book as “just a reader.”

      For your work, your question is more, is the plot plausible, right? Mine is more, is the plot interesting enough, which I guess will be answered when I hear from my readers. Good luck on getting your plot questioned answered, so you can move ahead in your writing.


      1. I don’t think ‘plausible’ is the right word. It’s got ghosts and magic after all, and lots of crazy stuff happens.
        I want ‘entertaining.’ No, I want ‘engrossing.’
        Are you coming Thursday?


  3. I’m with Pamela here. I think what you are suffering from is a case of “analysis paralysis.” Breathe deeply, let it go. See what happens.

    (BTW–I think we’d all agree that is one UGLY baby.)


  4. You know what? You can make yourself crazy with this kind of thinking. Everyone’s taste in story matter is different. Don’t worry about if people “like” it — some will, and some won’t — but think instead about making it as dramatic, coherent, surprising, and dynamic as you can make it. This way, the people who are inclined to like your type of story will be dazzled by it.

    Thanks for you comment over on my editing blog. Good to connect with another Mad Men fan. 🙂



    1. Oh, I know, I know. I’ve just got a lifetime of trying to please everyone behind me and it’s hard to change. 🙂 And if I do make it “dramatic, coherent, surprising and dynamic” it will be in part due to the great advice at your blog.


  5. That baby looked like Benjamin Button. So ugly his mother died and his father almost threw him off a bridge before deciding to abandon him on a doorstep. I had to attach a sticky note to his face just to get through your post. Now I’ve forgotten what you’ve said.

    Okay, back now. Had to refresh. Anyway, the only advantage I can think of for whose opinion to value more is the writer/reader will at least know a little more about what irks an agent (like too many dialogue tags), whereas a non-writer reader won’t notice. But I think you need both, because (as set forth by my above example) a writer/reader might get hung up on details that will distract them from truly enjoying the novel every time they see a snag.


  6. I was thinking along of the lines of deal with it when you get there as well. Just remember, all of us are ugly to some out there. But, beautiful as well. Time to cut the cord


    1. Wow, Jennifer, way to power through getting caught up on blog posts! I’m flattered you took the time.

      Ha, you’ve found me out. I’m reluctant to let this story go. Luckily, with only fifty pages left in this round, I can see I have several scenes to expand. I’m not only a lead-footed driver, I’m a lead-fingered writer! 🙂


  7. Well, my only insight is that if the goal is to have the work published, then the viewpoint of the reader should be more important than the writer. As that viewpoint will be the one to leverage a publishing house into printing your work.

    However, if you love your story, then you have achieved a much more difficult goal, as we are often our own toughest critics.


  8. Hi, Linda!

    I think you definitely need outside eyes – readers and writers (mentors are good if you can get one). I know just how you feel. After I finished my book, I told my old professor that I wanted three people to read it, so I would have a basis of comparison to help me decide which advice was most valid. He said, “You forgot the most important voice in all this. Your own.” He was right, of course, but as I launch into the 2nd rewrite, I still wrestle with these very same things.

    … I think the fact that you care enough to question your work is a good thing. As long as you don’t let it cripple your forward progress (all the way to publication).


    1. Oh, I have my good days and bad days, but I’m not about to give up now. I don’t mind having more to learn, I just hate not knowing what that is. Some things I just don’t see until someone else points it out. Moving on.


  9. Hi Linda,

    It is hard to let a story go. I found that out with my last edit. It seemed so final before I sent it off. I’ve also been told I over think. It’s hard not to because writing is such a personal thing. I’m trying not to over think as publication grows handy. Too late now to worry about such things anyway.

    Just keep your head down and charge on through. It’ll be fantastic I’m sure.


      1. It’s been gone over several times during the editing process and I found out that I will actually have to proofread it one more time before it goes to the printer. I really don’t have any choice now but all those months after it was accepted I never had the courage to look at it for that very reason. During the editing process I made changes that hadn’t been suggested. That works out great if you have an editor who is open to that sort of thing. My editor has been terrific. I hope when the time comes, you are so lucky as to have an editor like mine!


Do you have a comment?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s