From Anne R. Allen’s Blog… with Ruth Harris:
One of the most damaging things a new writer can do is try to please everybody who beta-reads or critiques their WIP. I’ve seen a novel turned into a kind of jackalope of unrelated parts.
If you tend to be a “people pleaser” this can be a real problem.
I’ve been swayed by these dangerous critiques a few times myself. One of my Camilla romcom mysteries has suffered the wrath of reviewers because there’s too much realism going on with one character’s tummy tuck. I had made the mistake of taking advice from one of these dangerous critiques: A man told me with great authority what a complicated procedure a tummy tuck is. So in spite of my own experience with tummy-tucked friends who had no such complications, I let his confidence sway me. So I added way too much clinical detail to my breezy romcom.
. . . .
I learned some things.
. . . .
Sources of the Most Dangerous Critiques
1) The Realism Brigade
These are the folks who want to know when your characters go to the bathroom, and point out that it really isn’t all that romantic to have your first kiss in front of everybody at work, the window of a department store, or the middle of a snowstorm.
They’ll tell you that gun has too much of a kick for a young women to handle and that nobody could run that fast in high heels.
They must be so miserable in superhero movies.
The truth is that most fiction is not realistic and is not meant to be.
James Patterson said it well “ I don’t do realism. Sometimes people will mention that something I’ve written doesn’t seem realistic and I always picture them looking at a Chagall and thinking the same thing. You can say, “I don’t like what you do, or I don’t like Chagall, or I don’t like Picasso ” but saying that these things are not realistic is irrelevant.”
2) The Detailers
These are the folks who want you to tell us the species of trees that your heroine is running through to escape the giant sabertoothed cave rats. They’ll add, “And bring in all the senses here. What do the trees smell like? What does the pathway feel like under her feet? Are there birds in the forest? Describe their songs.”
By this time the heroine has been eaten by the giant sabertoothed cave rats. And your reader is bored to tears.
Details in fiction should be like Chekhov’s Gun. Don’t spent two pages describing trees if those trees don’t end up being an important part of the plot.
3) Grammar Enforcers
These people may write nonfiction, or teach technical or business writing. Every one of their suggestions is correct, and they can tear through your WIP and make it read like a grammar text book.
Not exactly what people read for entertainment..
Fiction requires sentence fragments, one-word paragraphs, and unfinished clauses. Sometimes you even need to use a preposition to end a sentence with.
If you let the Grammar Enforcers get hold of your WIP, the result will send all your readers to sleep.
Link to the rest at Anne R. Allen’s Blog… with Ruth Harris