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Continually trying to answer the question...can a man of few words write a successful novel?

I'm a Mystery/Thriller/Suspense writer from small town USA who struggles everyday to balance my passion for prose against the need to be a full-time bread winner. Finding ways to devote more time to my writing is the challenge, but for now all I can do is follow this tug at my heart to wherever it leads. I'm here primarily to soak up all the knowledge I can from the writing-centric blogosphere, but I'll do my best to contribute by thinking of new and innovative ways to churn the writing pot.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

O is for Opinions


O is for Opinions


If you’re a writer/blogger chasing after publication, then unfortunately you’re in a business where opinions are paramount.  Alpha readers, beta readers, critique partners, agents, publishers, editors, and ultimately…consumers…will all have an opinion about your writing.  Some will be more impactful than others, but they all will help shape your work to some degree. 

In general, I have a love/hate relationship with opinions.  I love receiving them…when I ask for them.  If I do ask for an opinion…about anything…it’s because I feel the person I’m asking has the requisite knowledge, skill, or experience with the subject I’m asking about.  In other words, I trust their judgment.  What I don’t care for is somebody who offers their opinion when I didn’t specifically ask for it.  In fact, I find people ask for my opinion just so they can tell me their own. 

The reason why I don’t pay very much attention to unsolicited opinions is really very simple…consider the source.  There have been too many times I’ve run across individuals who don’t take the time to shape “informed” opinions.  I overheard a woman just the other day waiting in line at the movies that was passing along her opinion of the Hunger Games to her companion…and she admitted to never reading the book, but her daughter had!  Too many people today don’t read the source material, news articles, or fact presentations and instead rely entirely on hearsay.  Opinions are being formed from opinions that are taken from other opinions.

Like they say…everyone has one…but how useful is it?

What about you…what’s yours?  (Yes…that’s me asking!)  :)

41 comments:

  1. Your example of the lady at the Hunger Games giving her unresearched opinion is hilarious. There are people who do that all the time and it drives me nuts.

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  2. I think opinions are good if they contribute to a conversation as the end result of reflection, of a critical thought process. If no thinking's gone on before the opinion's expressed, the person is talking out their thoughts without the critical part and it sucks energy to have to listen to them!

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  3. I've learned not to open my mouth in front of a budinsky - someone who gives opinions even when not asked, and the 'fixer' - someone who wants to 'fix' my situation without knowing anything about what I do or write. All other opinions I'm open for.

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  4. Writing is one of those things or jobs that garner a lot more opinions than I think most other jobs can. It's a truly subjective business.

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  5. i am guilty of listening to surface news headlines, and then i bounce reasons off my news hound hub who gets frustrated w/my lack of research into the full story. i dont like delving into the cold, hard, & usually depressing truth. i am ok w/my blissful ignorance and dont spread what i'm not sure of.

    but with matters closer to home & my heart that i have an effect on (like cps or reviews), i do my diligence =)

    people need to be smarter when they hear things, too...

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  6. I always search deeper - I like to know the facts, not the headlines.

    I will listen to all opinions, but ultimately it's my choice to agree or disagree.

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  7. There was a woman in the theater of my Hunger Games showing who said she didn't even realize it was a book before she got in line that evening.

    My opinion on opinions is bring 'em on. Like Annalisa said, the power to agree or disagree stays with me.

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  8. For me it really depends on what the opinion is about. Unsolicited opinions about me/my life/my choices can be grating. Unsolicited opinions about my work are, at this point, not a possibility, because the only people who see my writing are the ones from whom I'm soliciting opinions. :) Anything else - what you think about other books, movies, politics, etc. - bring 'em on. I'm always interested to hear what's going on in other people's brains, and then I can make my own decision.

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  9. I'm with you on the reason most people ask for opinions -- so that they can offer their own. Most times it doesn't even feel as if they listen to yours, they are so busy formulating their own response.

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  10. I listen a lot to other people and there are a lot of very opinionated people out there who have no idea where their information is coming from except hearing it in passing off the TV or radio. I try my darnedest not to form an opinion unless I've read/heard/seen something at its source.

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  11. Oh yes, those people are the best, aren't they? Spouting off about things they haven't even read or seen as though they know everything. Ditto to the people who give their opinions on your work without you asking for them... so annoying!

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  12. In a world filled with easy and fast info., it takes some effort to gather the facts. Reading a book is a little bit of work.

    We've become lazy asses. Plain and simple.

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  13. I'm with you on this one, DL. If I ask, that's fine. But I do have to consider the source when it's unsolicited.
    Karen

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  14. I agree! If I want an opinion, I ask.

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  15. I tried to find a email for you so I could bring this to your attention in that manner. When I joined the A - Z I was number 1262 and I am no longer listed could you explain that to me? Mjames7704@cox.net

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  16. I am always interested in an opinion, if I asked for it. Though, I advise myself and others to be careful what you ask for... you just may get it.

    I am never interested in the opinion of the opinionated.

    We humans are so anxious and willing to impart our *wisdom* to others, through our own story and the thoughts and feelings we've experienced, that we often forget (or never learn) that everyone of us are on an individual path to our own *truth*.

    Sometimes people give unsolicited advice, under the guise of an *opinion*, when perhaps they could be of more help if they would simply learn to listen.

    "Errors of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it."
    ~Thomas Jefferson

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  17. I only like opinions when they match my own.

    Haha! I'm totally kidding. I'll listen to anyone's opinion and hardly ever refute it even if I'm internally rolling my eyes.

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  18. The problem with opinions, as you say, is that people think all opinions are equal--except their own, of course, which they think is superior. And that's usually just not true!

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  19. My husband learned quickly that when I am venting, I don't want an opinion or solution, just sympathy. LOL

    The ignorant opinion reminds me of a church we used to attend a long time ago. The pastor did an entire sermon on the evils of the movie Titanic - but he'd never seen the movie! We found a new church not long after that.

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  20. Opinions are like belly buttons (a nice way of saying it) everybody has at least one.

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  21. I'm so with you on this one. I hate when people have an opinion on something they know nothing about.

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  22. Interesting that in a world where there's more data available to more people than at any other time in human history, people don't do their research.

    Why is that? Time? Distraction by too much information pouring in from all kinds of sources?

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  23. I agree with considering the source of the opinions. Opinions can be wonderfully helpful (especially, like you said, when I ask for them), but depending on the subject, they can be wonderfully useless too!

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  24. Very very true!!! I try to only give my opinion when asked. I've found myself in hot water on FB once or twice because a post was made and an opinion wasn't specifically asked of me. So I refrain now.

    Like you, I do value people's opinions on my work. I need feedback. But yes, only from those I specifically ask because I know they understand what I;m looking for and understand the genre. Recently an internet friend read one of my books and completely bashed it on Goodreads. I was floored. The comments she made led me to believe she rarely even reads romantic fiction and just doesn't understand it. So I took the opinion with a grain of salt...but still. As a "friend" should she have even written it??

    My opinion is no...but that's just my opinion ;)

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  25. A lot of people run their mouths without doing their homework, on many subjects. If you're going to criticize a band, book, film, genre, political viewpoint, etc., at least know what you're talking about instead of saying, "They suck because they're from the Sixties" or "Only weirdos follow that philosophy." It's also annoying when people won't let you voice your own informed opinions and the reasons you came to those conclusions, and then accuse you of being argumentative when they're the ones acting like you're nuts for believing that and wanting to state your opinions calmly. My family acts like this when I try to explain why I'm such a passionate advocate of natural childbirth and midwifery, for example.

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  26. I'm in a critique group, and I always tell new writers that when someone gives their opinion on your work, it is only 'their' opinion.

    Everything in the writing game is so subjective...

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  27. I'm of the opinion that your opinion on opinions is sufficient to piggy-back on. Just kidding, I rarely piggy-back on my opinions.

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  28. Opinions. They are not facts, though some may be formed from a garden salad of info tossed together.

    Opinions. They really are like ***holes. We've all got one and boy do we make a habit of using them...some to the point of having diarrhea of the mouth.

    Uninformaed opinions. Wow is all I can say. There are ways to be informed, yet it's so much easier to have your opinion formed for you by some other just-as-uninformed-opinion-holder.

    My opinion? Only matters to those who really want it, and only then should I give it.

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  29. Some people just like to hear themselves talk. :)
    It's best to keep our opinions to ourselves, unless we can add some value to a conversation or to another person's life.
    ...then again, that's just my opinion. lol

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  30. Me? OH, I'm sure I'll hate the Hunger Games. I've never read the book or seen the movie but I'm sure I'll hate it. My son has read it though and loved it. ;) Actually, I haven't read the books but because my kids returned and couldn't stop talking about the movie, I want to see it.

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  31. I didn't actually read any of it, but great post! :)

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  32. Amen! My opinion is that people should have less opinions and focus on making themselves happy...not what other people are doing. I love the words - consider the source. I was super upset just a bit ago, about someone's opinion and my Mom kept repeating those words to me over and over. It was awesome and she was so right!

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  33. I definitely agree you have to consider the source when listening to any person's opinion.

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  34. Since you're asking... :)

    Uninformed opinions can drive me batty! If people base their opinions on facts and logic, I'm usually much more likely to listen :)

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  35. Oh, I'm def *with* you. I have a serious love/hate relationship with opinions. I love them, even if I don't agree with them, if they are given in an honest, helpful way, but MAN, those "other" opinions. Not so much.

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  36. Sometimes it is better to listen.

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  37. I like this: "In fact, I find people ask for my opinion just so they can tell me their own."

    So true :-)

    Some people just seem to have a need to express their opinion--and quite often they are argumentative if there is a differing opinion within earshot.

    "Opinion" is not a synonym for "debate".

    That's it. My opinion. Thanks for asking. :-)

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  38. What's that saying? opinions are like asses everyone has one. :)

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  39. You 'had me' at Hunger Games. I really try hard to NOT ever see a movie and without reading the book first! I had to hurry and read Hunger Games because my hubs really wants to see it this weekend! :)

    Thanks for stopping by my blog and for following. I followed back! :)

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  40. I'll let anyone spout off, but I'm selective in who's opinions I consider useful. Its not that I've cultivated such a tough skin I can take anything, I just don't pay attention unless I know for sure the person has my feelings and best interest at heart.

    ......dhole

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  41. Apart from being potentially unfounded, opinions are also very subjective, especially in writing and publishing. Sure, I'd value opinions from industry professionals above others, but sometimes even the pros cannot agree. My gut is my tiebreaker. :)

    J.C. Martin
    A to Z Blogger

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