“Negative feedback is better that none. I would rather have a man hate me than overlook me. As long as he hates me I make a difference.” - Sparky Hugh Prathe
A member of my writing group received a note back on a submission recently. IMHO, the short romance she submitted was one of the strongest she'd written but it was rejected... and quickly, too. But she wasn't just sent a form letter, she had one line of feedback regarding whether a couple would share one dinner between them. What?
Some time ago, I submitted to the same place. When I got my rejection, there was feedback saying that waiters don't wear hats at restaurants. And another, from the same place simply said that "something" was wrong with the story.
Seriously, folks, the first two comments are regarding things easily fixed, and the last might as well not have been included at all. It's nice to know that there is actually a real live person reading your stuff, but clearly the dinner and the hat were not the reasons these stories were rejected, since removing or fixing those problems is quite simple and wouldn't change the story in any integral way.
But it got me to thinking: Do I do that?
When I'm reading for feedback, do I get hung up on something silly that I just can't get past? Something that would be easily changed or that someone else wouldn't find odd? My entire group read through my friend's story, and none of us had an issue with the dinner.
I plan on paying closer attention to what little things I like or don't like when I read. I want to know if something small like that can put me completely off of a story... I'm curious if my reaction is strong.
I had my (now ex) brother-in-law, who is a screenwriter in LA, call me regarding a script he was in the middle of and ask me something I actually knew a lot about and he didn't. He said, can this thing happen? I said, nope... they wouldn't do that. He said, I can't write the story unless they do. I told him he'd have to do what he needed to do, and that most people wouldn't know the difference. So he did, and did it wrong, and the movie was a huge hit, so apparently no one cared.
So... for you: do the little things matter to the point that a story can be off-putting? Do you get hung up on the details? Or do you just shrug and keep on moving forward?