Thursday, May 19, 2016 | By: The Write Way Cafe

Hey, Lady! That's An Ugly Baby by Sarah Vance-Tompkins

The Write Way Café welcomes Sarah Vance-Tompkins, who shares her tips for grooming your ugly baby.

How To Take Feedback and Criticism Of Your Manuscript

You've worked hard. You've spent countless hours writing down eighty thousand words that tell a cohesive story. You've cried. You've sweated. You may have even bled. It sure felt like it when you were working alone in a little room while everyone else in your family was watching "The Voice."

You've finally typed "The End." You couldn't be prouder. It's a huge milestone on your path to publication. But here's the thing -- your manuscript -- your baby -- is seriously ugly. 

Even if you know you've got an ugly baby, it's hard to hear those words spoken by someone else. Sending your manuscript out for criticism and feedback can be painful. Here are five things to consider when you are ready for a critique -- professional or otherwise -- about your manuscript. 

1. Tell Me What You Want. What You Really Really Want.
You don't have sing it like a Spice Girl, but before you hit send, you need to ask yourself if you are in search of encouragement to keep writing, or feedback to make your project better. This is important. There is a difference. You need to know what you really want before you send your manuscript off for review and criticism.

Set your own goals. What do you want to accomplish in this round of edits? What are you expecting from the review? Give your editor or critique partner a list of questions you have as the writer, so they can tailor their feedback to your specific needs. 

3. A Pinch Of Salt.
We're all human. It's hard to set aside the problems we're facing in the real world and read someone else's manuscript without prejudice. When we're tired and distracted, we forget to use the kind of words that will encourage an author to keep going without calling their manuscript an ugly baby. You have to have confidence in your own project. Use the feedback that helps you tell your story, and ignore the criticisms that feel like someone might be tossing a little shade. 

4. You Said. She Said. 
The best advice I've gotten from an experienced writer about the editing process was to look at the feedback as the opening of a discussion. If your editor or CP questions an element in the manuscript, they're not necessarily saying what you've written is bad -- but rather -- they may be asking you to create a better storytelling element. Remind yourself that the person you've asked to read the story doesn't know it as well as you do. Whether you agree or disagree -- you should at least respect them for pointing it out. 

5. Say What? 
If you don't understand a comment or suggestion you receive from a critique partner or editor, ask questions before you start to make big changes. Save your original draft in case you need to go back to it. And make sure you have a plane before you start editing. 

Be proud of your ugly baby. The criticism and feedback you receive will put you on the path to success. 

Kisses On A Paper Airplane
A debut YA novella by Sarah Vance-Tompkins

Drama student Hannah Evans isn't kissing any frogs on her path to find Prince Charming. She's determined to share the perfect first kiss -- with the perfect boy -- in the perfect place -- or she's not kissing at all. When Hannah meets a cute ginger-haired boy in first class lounge in the London airport, she knows he's 'The One.'

Pop star Theo Callahan is on the road to get as far away as possible from his back-stabbing best friend, and the supermodel girlfriend who broke his heart. Until one shy smile from Hannah has him rethinking all of his travel plans.

Theo is smitten, but he's worried she's just a groupie in search of the ultimate selfie. Can Theo learn to trust Hannah in time to share one perfect first kiss, or will Hannah be forced to kiss a frog?

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Sarah Vance-Tompkins was born in a small town in northern Michigan. She received an MFA in Film Production from the University of Southern California, and went on to work in feature film development. Prior to film school, she wrote and produced radio and television commercials. A working writer, she has been paid to write everything from obituaries and press releases to breathless descriptions of engagement rings. She and her husband, The Handsomest Man Alive™, live in Southern California with three cats.

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HiDee said...

Great tips! Thank you for being with us today, Sarah!

Tari said...

Such great advice, I'm going to share this post with some friends!

Robena Grant said...

Sound advice and well written. Congratulations on your new release!

Sarah said...

Thank you, Robena. I'm looking forward to seeing you in San Diego and hearing about your trip to Australia.

Allison Morse said...

First off, I'm half way through your new novella and I'm loving it!

Thank you for your blog post. Our work is our babies and it hurts being told its ugly, but certainly true for my stories, for at least the first gazillion drafts. I like your tip about Goals. When my work is close to final and it has already been through beta reads where there were no holds barred comments, I recently began asking for limited & question specific feedback at this later stage and have found this approach very helpful.

Sarah said...

Good to know it works, Allison. I don't know who recommended it to me, but I've found it very helpful. I'm hypercritical and usually aware my baby is ugly, but I often need someone to point out where to start.

Angela Adams said...

Enjoyed the post. Thanks for sharing.

RT Wolfe said...

This would be good to read before any edits. :) Love it.

Susan J Berger said...

Fun post. I bought the book. Good luck.

Alina K. Field said...

Great post, as usual, Sarah! :)

Comlete Exclusive said...

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