Monday 1 November 2010

An important lesson to be learned by us all!

This became extremely clear to me this weekend when I had a conversation with Janice, the publisher of Lucky Press LLC. Janice is considering my debut for publication, and as a part of her decision-making process, she likes to ask a few questions to get a feel for where an author's head is at.
Anyway, she said that she thought my beginning wasn't very strong. "Ok. No problem," I said, "would you be interested in seeing my original beginning, which is like a prologue, which I got told to cut by every single editing professional on the planet, but which I adored and which stung incredibly to cut?" I didn't say it in those words, but you get my drift. Janice said, "Sure, send it along!" So I did. And you know what? She replied after reading it saying that she really liked it. SEEEE!???? I should have trusted my instincts! I loved my prologue. In my opinion it was the perfect introduction into my protagonist's mind, but everyone told me it wasn't necessary. To cut it and just jump straight into the action.
So, this is the lesson, folks. Get your professional opinions, listen to them, but do not lose sight of your own vision! Go with your gut. Because your gut speaks the truth!
Have you ever been advised to cut anything from your story that deep down you thought you should keep? If so, what did you do?


  1. This is great. We do go astray sometimes with all the advice we are given. This has happened to me so I'm trying to let me gut take over when I'm in doubt. I just have to be stong and stand behind it.
    Have a great day!

  2. Hi,

    Yep, absolutely, trust your instincts. Too many professionals and not so professionals' deem to be in the know re publishing tastes and trends and often as not get it wrong! ;)


  3. Good post. =) It can be difficult at times to trust what intuition tells us. When I start to doubt myself, I pull up this quote:

    “The only real valuable thing is intuition.”
    ~Albert Einstein

    Good luck with the publisher, Jess!
    *cheering you on*

  4. I stuck to my guns. I loved what I had written, and I knew it is right for the storyline.

    We will see what the future holds. I will keep my voice though.:)

  5. Ooh, I like that. I think sometimes we tend to go with what we think is the best adived, but we shouldn't ignore the inner voice. Yes, I'm guilty, but no more! :)

  6. Great advice. I hope I have the courage to follow it!

  7. That EXACT same thing happened to me! No kidding, Wild Rose Press was consider my partial but rejected it for "blah, blah". I tacked on the prologue again and did a little (very little) tweak the story itself and bam! She loved it.

    Funny how that stuff works. Trust those instincts!!!!


  8. hi miss jessica! hooray for you! you just gotta listen to yourself and believe in you. one time someone said about cutting lots of stuff out of my story cause for them it was too long and i did and i said whoa i liked it how i wrote and i put it back in cause i just knew it was sposed to be there.
    ...hugs from lenny

  9. Good reminder. I'm glad you get to keep your prologue.

  10. Sometimes it's all in a name. The words Introduction and Prologue turn a lot of readers off, including those of power.

  11. So many times with my short fiction I've been advised by reviewers/critiquers to change certain elements, and every time I've felt the story became weaker instead of stronger. I'm not talking about clarification issues or character traits. But fundamental parts of a manuscript shouldn't be changed when the author really likes them or feels they are important to the work. Only the author knows how to stay true to the vision for their story.

    Love the title of this post; that really sums it up!

  12. So true, so true. It's a hard call, but sounded like you braved the anti-prologue movement.

  13. Yeah for knowing you can trust your instincts, and yeah also for the fact that she is seriously looking at your debut novel.

    *throws confetti*

  14. Wow! It's good to be reminded that more often than not the gut is right!

  15. That's interesting, the same thing happened to me, except I haven't added it back in, yet.

  16. What a great lesson! Thanks for sharing. For me, it comes down to words or phrases that I think exemplifies my voice - that other writers might not like. I'm learning to listen to my gut on those.

  17. It's easy to go astray but one must follow what our heart and head feels is right.

    Have a lovely day.

  18. What a great post! I have to remember this more... oh and congrats on getting this far into the process!

  19. YES! I've been told to rewrite whole passages by one then told by another s/he LOVED it. This is such an opinionated racket. It's art, and you know how that is...

    SUPER CONGRATS on being considered for pub!!! You ROCK!!! :o) <3

  20. First off, congrats on being consideration...though, it does not surprise me. And second, thanks for the reminder on trusting your gut. Very valuable lesson indeed. xo

  21. GREAT piece of advice, and congrats again on being a part of this whole process! It must be a major confidence boost.

    I think we have to know 'the rules' to know when to break them. Rules are simply guidelines, as far as I'm concerned...

  22. Great post! I've never been told to cut something that I felt needed to be in there, but ...

    I did write a scene that I was iffy about. I had planned for the scene to be there all along, but after writing it, it felt wrong. I left it in though and sent it to my friend to read. She felt the scene was wrong to. Instinct will never lead you astray.

  23. IT'S SO TRUE, we know our stories better than anyone. Glad you trusted your instincts and can remind all of us that we shouldn't forget about our instincts either.

  24. That is great advice. Very interesting too.

  25. It's such a balancing act, isn't it?! Good luck with Lucky Press, Jessica! :-)

  26. You said it! Instincts are (almost) always right!

  27. I cut it and then I put it back in and then I cut it again and now I've put back in half but it mostly feels like I'm wavering in what I want to do...
    So - I have NO freaking idea what to do when I get opinion other than my gut. Sometimes suggestions just FEEL right, some just don't. Still trying to figure out the last round...

  28. Jessica,

    Yay! Good for you!

    You are the story-teller, and you ought to know how to tell your story. There's lots of advice out there on what-not-to-do based on other people's mistakes.

    Ex. A wildly successful book about sparkly vampires starts with a prologue (which isn't a true prologue at all, but a glimpse of the climax.) A bunch of other writers try the same technique. So many manuscripts use this technique poorly that agents/publishers begin to mention that prologues are a bad idea. Writers begin to obey this new dictum ... and truncate stories that were *meant* to begin with a prologue, just because the publishing world has seen so many bad ones.

    The moral here: Think outside the box. Tell your story the way it needs to be told -- not the way somebody else told their story!

  29. Hi, Jessica! Oh, yes. That has happened to me. I cut it and didn't like it. It felt out of place to me. I added the original scene back in so that the mysterious element wasn't given away.

    Great post! <3
    Ps.Did I tell you I'm proud of you?

  30. I absolutely agree and that is why the write, write, and write some more advice is so important. Because it is only through practice that we learn to listen to our gut instincts.


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