Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Just Wondering . . .

So, lets say you have a particular friend who has been working night and day on writing a novel. Perhaps this well fashioned, and clever friend finishes her novel and asks you to read through it in hopes that you'll offer helpful advice.

If it's a terrible read, a full-on piece of crap, and a complete waste of your time do you:

A. Return it without any edits and say, "just perfect."
B. Never answer the phone again, and avoid your writer friend like the plague.
C. Suggest small changes but never really attack the heart of the problem.
D. Call up and say, "Yo, your book fully sucketh, it'll never get publsihed as is, and you need to re-write 90% of it. Plus, you use the word "gaze" way to much for the protagonist not to be an ALIEN!"

Please answer as honestly as possible.

18 SPLURTS:

Tyran, the Yeti Yogi said...

D because that's what real friends do, they tell you when your feet smell or your choice of shirt makes you look like a throw pillow.

Kristina P. said...

Yikes! I don't know. I would take my cue from my friend. If she told me to be completely honest and don't beat around the bush, I would do just that. But if she was going to be really sensitive and angry, I think I might go with C.

Peggy said...

Hmm. I just searched my entire manuscript for the word "gaze." I didn't find any instances, so I'm really hoping that you aren't asking me for advice on what advice to give me... (fingers crossed)

I'm going to say E. None of the above. But also kind of D.

Is this friend very serious about writing, or just starting out? Because when you are just starting out, you are in need of encouragement more so than you are in need of it later. I would point out the things that this person did do well (because there are always things they did well). Then maybe suggest some helpful classes they can take or books on writing that they can read to "hone their craft." But I would give suggestions, also. More general suggestions, though. Like tell them if they need more conflict, or if their protagonist needs more dimension, or if they need to work on dialog, or whatever it is.

If they have been writing for a while, and you think this person can take criticism without making them want to never write again, still point out the parts they did well, and then be honest in your critique. They probably gave you the manuscript because they really trust your judgment.

Melony said...

Did you forget I read your blog?? I got the point GEEEZZZ! Now I'm gonna go cry and consider self destruction.

(Tell the truth, we are both writers and we need the truth. You know it as much as I do. Whether it hurts or not we need to hear it.)

Piglet de' Erin said...

Tyran, are you saying that my shirt looks like a throw pillow? Maybe that's my theme.

Tyran, the Yeti Yogi said...

Who said throw pillows are bad? :)


Even when uncomfortable, I prefer the truth and honesty over anything less than that.

Nick and Emily said...

so about the whole not showing up to talk about your book last night... uh.... ha ha just kidding. you know what i think. i did mean to come by last night but we decided to give alecia a break and take her kids to the movies. and then my phone totally died or i would've called. the book is GREAT! minus the whole gazing thingy. ha ha. just kidding.

Kayleen said...

honesty with love always :)

Shari said...

If it was me I would want my friends to choose D, because isn't the whole goal of writing a novel for other people to love it! To love it so much that they tell all of their friends that they need to read it to. So if my friends didn't think it was good who else would. Honesty is always the best policy. I learned this lesson last week when I wasn't honest by omission and had to apologize and start over honestly. Good luck, I know some teen girls who would probably be willing to critique for you.

Shari said...

If it was me I would want my friends to choose D, because isn't the whole goal of writing a novel for other people to love it! To love it so much that they tell all of their friends that they need to read it to. So if my friends didn't think it was good who else would. Honesty is always the best policy. I learned this lesson last week when I wasn't honest by omission and had to apologize and start over honestly. Good luck, I know some teen girls who would probably be willing to critique for you.

A. said...

Wow - too many variables. being a non-writer myself, I'd have a hard time critiquing in the first place. Secondly, if it wasn't a genre I liked to begin with, I'd be of no help outside of maybe spelling and punctiation (if that!). Otherwise, if it's a good friend, I'd tell them what I honestly thought. A kinda friend... C.

Ashleigh said...

D

Nikki said...

Ermmm.... Ummm... I heard that local colleges and universities near where you live have courses on becoming better writers. HAHAHA just kidding! Maybe you could send me your manuscript so I can read it.

Weight Family said...

Non-confrontational, people-pleasing personality types pick C!!!!

gurrbonzo said...

Be nice and be honest. There is SOMETHING you like about it, so talk that part up and use it to give suggestions. "The characters are really well-developed, and I care so much about Dude A that I really want to know where he's coming from, but reusing the word 'gaze' distracts from him." or whatever.

Explain what you like and how whatever sucks will be so much better when it's fixed. Honest but positive, honest but positive.

onelowerlight said...

D. Definitely D. I've done it before, too. Multiple times. I've probably made people cry. And I don't regret it, either, because if you're serious about writing, it's all about the story, not about catering to your ego. Chances are that ego needs to be shot anyway.

Of course, the only good reason for being brutally honest is because you genuinely want to help the writer do the best that they possibly can. Any other reason, and you need to take a good, hard look in the mirror. Oh, and when you start getting out of "this is how I reacted to this part of your story" into "this is why your story doesn't work and this is how you need to change it," most of what you're going to say is going to be wrong, or at least optional. Especially if you're an unpublished author giving another unpublished author advice.

Honey and Hotstuff said...

Erin,
I reread this post and was beginging to wonder if this is your way of telling me my story really sucked.... don't worry I can take critisism really well.... I need to call my shrink now.

Adeeva Afsheen said...


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