Wednesday, June 29, 2011

too many cooks

I've heard the expression too many cooks spoil the soup.  I don't know much about this since the only soup I eat comes from panera.

But I have noticed when it comes to feedback too much can be a bad thing.  I drafted and revised my query about seven different times and I've revised my novel based off of feedback at least, well let's just say WAY more than seven times.

So a few months ago I started the query process and I helped host a query blogfest.  It was great. 
This is what I posted:

Colin McCaffrey has his life all mapped out. Overachiever extraordinaire, he spends every spare moment training for his Juilliard audition because the last thing he wants is to end up a directionless slacker like his brother, Bryce.  

Bryce has his life mapped out too -- hitch a ride on his little brother’s coattails.  As long as Colin succeeds, there’s no reason for Bryce to face reality.  Responsibility sucks.

When the brothers form a band with their friends, Bryce gets a taste of success, and Colin gets distracted from his practicing. As their popularity grows, Colin’s past comes back to haunt him.  See, Colin and Bryce have a secret pact -- protect those who need protecting, and punish the bullies for their douchey behavior. Now his “victims” want to pound his spinal chord into dust.

And  I kept getting the same basic feedback, "what does punishing bullies have to do with your plot?"  Well that's a valid point.  So I revised and took it out of my query.  Here's the problem, the book opens with Colin and Bryce punishing a bully.  It's scene 1. 

So that created a lot of confusion for the people who read the revised query and the first couple of pages of the book. 

Thing is I've done that alot with this book, I'm excellent at taking advice, but I take TOO much advice and then  I end up with something that's totally different and sort of wrong.  

When it comes to revising, listening to other people but don't give into the little demon of self doubt. 
Publishing is extremely subjective and opinions differ.  Stay true to your story, do what's best for it.  

Cutest demon of self doubt. 

Because you might end up in revision hell. 

I'm there now.  It's not a fun place and I don't recommend it.  
Lots of times, I'm awesome, you should totally go out of your way to be just like me.  NOT THIS TIME!

I'm off to return to revision hell.   There will be tears.   And I will end up looking like this:

And no, that's not my kid, that's a kid I pulled off of google... ironic that for once it sort of gave me what I was looking for.


  1. Part of the process of editing and rewriting is learning what advise works for you and what doesn't. But fi a lot of people tell you something doesn't make sense it probably doesn't. And if you change it and people still tell you it doesn't make sense, that doesn't mean you should change it back to the original. There are lots of wrong ways and lots of right ways. If the changes you made confused people then you probably need to make different changes. It's a long slow process and the first attempt isn't usually the successful one.

    Moody Writing

  2. I know exactly what you're going through. I'm experiencing the same now. It's a very subjective industry and not everyone will love your story. That's ok, because some will adore it. That's what I need to remember.

  3. I know about the too many cooks thing and what you're dealing with is a bear, especially since I know how many incarnations this has had. Good luck.

  4. exactly, and I meant to note when I sent comments earlier this week-- "take what you like and dump the rest". I feel like I err on the side of giving too much in the comments. If the author doesn't agree, they should hit "reject change". Oh, and punishing bullies is KEY to your story.

  5. I hear you. You know your story best so you can listen to all of the advice and figure out which is worth following. Good luck with your revisions and querying!

  6. I'm with you on that!I hate that feeling of getting so many different pieces of advice and not knowing which to take and which to discount. I've started going with the general consensus. If it's a piece of advice you are getting over and over again, then yeah--listen. However, I have my query posted in another contest and I'm gettig negative feedback, BUT with that same query I have gotten two full requests and four partials out of 10 queries, so...yeah, it's subjective :)