Yes…everybody is a critic. But you have to have a thick skin. Especially if you are a new writer, like me. I don’t have enough experience under my belt to tell somebody that they don’t know what the hell they’re talking about. “What do you mean, I can’t write? I have one short story published!” doesn’t sound all that impressive. And besides, they might be right!
But just because Saint Peter tells me that I should change that love scene in chapter six, should I run home and rewrite? If it means the difference between getting into and NOT getting into Heaven, I probably should. But I don’t really have to worry about that, just yet. So how do I know who I should listen to and who I should just give a nod of my head and a polite smile?
For this puzzling dilemma our twisted little writing group uses the rule of three. It’s simple. If only one person has a problem with your main character exposing himself to a group of nuns in the opening paragraph, don’t get all bent out of shape and delete it. But if at least three readers say it that they don’t think it should be there, you might want to take a good look at it. I’m just using this scene as an example, of course. I actually can’t imagine anyone having a problem with it. As a matter of fact, the more I think about it the more I love the idea of one of my characters exposing himself to a group of nuns. Maybe not in the first paragraph, but very soon after that. I know there’s that whole Saint Peter’s thing to worry about but I’m a, “cross that bridge when I come to it,” kind of guy.
In the end, though, it’s still up to the writer to decide whether he or she wants to change something. After all, it’s your baby and you’re going to love it no matter what. But if you want the rest of the world to come over and pinch its little cheeks you might want to think about changing that diaper.
And really, don’t we all want other people to feel as warm and fuzzy about what we’ve written as we do? I know I do. I want them to enjoy it. And yes, I want them to buy it, too. Now the question is, will they buy a novel where the main character exposes himself to a group of nuns? In the first paragraph? I’ve just got to work this scene into a story.