Altering Someone Else’s Draft

Writers Write — and Edit

H.G. hit the nail on the head. When I read someone else’s work, whether it’s a draft or published, I always think of words to make it better.

Of course, the definition of “better” is only my opinion. An opinion which may or may not match how other folks would change the work. And obviously, my rewrite doesn’t match the author’s current words.

So what drives me to edit someone else’s words?

When I’m asked

When a writer asks for a critique, they supposedly want to know how others would improve their work.

When I ask with that motivation, I listen to the feedback and then determine if it’s what I want to do with the story.

Other times, I’ve reacted negatively to feedback, only to realize I just wanted to hear that my work is wonderful and doesn’t need any changes.

When someone asks me, I do my best to give constructive feedback. And pray the writer hears what God wants them to hear — so they craft the story He wants them to write.

When I’m not asked

What if the other writer doesn’t ask? What drives me then?

Unfortunately, I’m practicing the character defect of arrogance. Thinking my writing ability is superior. And I know what’s best for their story.

And even if I don’t really mean to cause damage, the harm is still done.

I’m not superior to any other human being. And God didn’t give me their story. He gave them the story He wants them to write.

People judge — and declare their opinion

Well, H.G.’s words certainly apply to more than critiquing another writer’s work.

— If I’m asked for my thoughts, my answer needs to be as positive and helpful as I can give. And I always have the option to respectfully decline to comment.

— When I’m not asked, I need to remember that what I deem to be constructive is not only unsolicited, but is probably unwanted. And at its worst, can harm another person.

A person God loves.

When I’m not asked, I always need to edit my own words. Down to a word count of ZERO.

How do you determine if you need to give your opinion?

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Joni Vance is an award-winning author of fiction, essay, and poetry. She loves mystery, history, and how God reveals Himself every day.

May God reveal the mystery of His love in your life story.

4 thoughts on “Altering Someone Else’s Draft

  1. Great post, Joni. I try to wait until asked. Not aways easy, but likely the best option. Sometimes I will ask if they want my opinion if I think I need to give it and they haven’t asked. If not, I stay quiet.

    • I agree silence is best. However, I don’t always stay silent. Ugh. Thanks for reading and sharing.

  2. Whew! That is a hard one. I give my opinion when I know someone will be harmed if I don’t give it… as in advocating for someone. Like if a person needs medical care and they will be harmed if no one follows through. I give my opinion when asked, but very carefully:) I have gotten in trouble before for giving unasked opinions so I tend to shy away from those.

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