Today, I got my much-anticipated feedback from the lovely Weronika Janczuk's query and 10 pages contest. It was a mixed bag of notes - some positive things, a lot of suggestions for things to improve, but overall I feel really great about what she suggested. It's totally manageable, and I feel completely capable of handling the revisions she's suggested for me. (For the MS anyway. Query wrangling is another story...but I still have time on that one.)
One notable comment she made was that, at one point, she wasn't quite sure what was going on, and she wanted a little more background about the world and where Kaia was coming from. I couldn't help but smile when I read this, and think back to the first major set of critiques I ever received...at my conference in January, where three of the ten people reading my pages said there was a little too much info dump and that I needed to take some of the background stuff out and integrate it throughout the chapter a little better. So I took their advice and cut out the background stuff.
Apparently, I went a little too far.
You need to dance with the words. Play with them on the page until the feel right to you. Then let someone else take them out for a spin and see how they feel. Do your words make for a smooth partnership? Or are your readers going to be left confused, dancing with two left feet?
Sometimes, you'll do something to your WIP, and you'll be convinced that it's the right decision. You might cut a great scene - or leave one in. But when you step back and look at the book as a whole, maybe that one decision - that small bit of choreography - throws off the rhythm of your entire project. Instead of waltzing along a moonlit path, suddenly, with just two or three sentences - or even words! - your book is doing the Macarena. (And this is sooooo not 1998.)
So don't be afraid to dance with your book. When you add a few steps in, look at it as a whole and make sure it still works. And know that sometimes, the dance has to start over again, and the steps you took out need to get put back in.
And, just for fun, because this video is totally awesome, and I once saw this guy perform live at a sorority convention (OMG yes I was in a sorority, no judgment - in fact, I was the president, because I was awesome.), I give you The Evolution of Dance: