Mixed Reviews

I recently read a great blog post by Nicole Evans (inkstaind13) about the prospect of negative judgement. If you create something, then someone’s going to hate it. Hopefully they’ll be in the minority, but it’s a fact we have to deal with. Nicole deftly highlights the fear of such judgements, and the potential agony of someone torching your very personal creations.

I thought I would follow on from the post with one of my own, and give a recent example of varying opinions on something I wrote.

If you head on over to www.hourofwrites.com, you will find a weekly writing competition. Each contest provides a three word writing prompt, and you have until the end of Friday to submit an entry of up to 2,000 words. I like entering this competition, because there’s a nice twist. Over the following weekend, you then have to mark three other entries, providing scores out of 100 and general feedback. You also get three sets of feedback on your own writing.

That means that even if you don’t win, you’ve benefitted from the process. At least three people have read your work, considered it and provided a review. The site creators make the final judgement on the winner, but they use the marking to influence their decision.

I entered last week’s competition. The title was ‘I Can Change.’ I gave the prompt a fair amount of thought, and then launched into what I considered to be a pretty solid entry.

After the weekend, I was able to access my feedback. Each person includes a score out of 100 for five different things: Response to title, atmosphere, memorability, style and originality. The following picture shows how I did.

Screen Shot 2016-07-29 at 16.59.48

So as you can see, opinions varied. None of them hated it, but at least one was lukewarm to the short story. I also received a fourth review, from my wife.

She didn’t like it. I’m very lucky that my wife agrees to read my stuff, and gives me honest feedback. She said that the writing style differed from what I usually create, and that she did not really enjoy the pacing.

The thing is, I agreed with everything that was mentioned in my reviews. I had tried something different to my usual, and I knew that it might get mixed reactions. However, I was still proud of what I had written. There’s a brilliant musical called ‘Title of Show.’ One of the songs has the lyrics ‘I’d rather be nine people’s favourite thing, than a hundred people’s ninth favourite thing.’

My short story’s not for everyone, and I’m pleased that I’m ok with that. That’s not to say it’s perfect, and I would probably make changes if I revisited it. But at some point, you have to let your creation out into the world. With Hour of Writes, that’s more evident than ever, as the Friday evening deadline sure comes round quickly.

The competition has now been judged by Hour of Writes, and I’m thrilled to say that my entry was chosen as the winner. That just goes to show the wide variety of opinions that are out there.

We really can’t please everyone. So long as our writing is not bigoted or discriminatory in some fashion, I think that’s fine. Improve where you can improve, but tell the story that you want to. Writing is like conversation. Imagine you’re at a party. You’re giving a brilliant description of the intricacies of chess, and the chess enthusiasts are hanging on your every word. But the guy who hates board games is bored to tears. The words you put on the page are going to get the same array of opinions.

So now your brain contains my thoughts on getting mixed reviews. Thanks for reading, and I hope your writing is going well.

Read my winning entry here.

Featured Image courtesy of Pixabay


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