Thursday, October 27, 2005

Crit This!

Mes Amis

No two readers are ever the same.

There's something horrendous about letting other people see your work or indeed about critiquing other people's (I just had to do that for someone I like and its a painful thing because you feel like you're being harder on them because you know them and you have to wonder whether you take it too far... anyway, I know the reader's pain).

Just had back a second report on THE GOOD SON in which a good percentage of what was said by other people has been reversed. The good news is the story seems to work. People are buying it. Hurrah! Structurally we're there (almost). The characters work (their dialogue is a bit iffy, but I guess I can work on that). There is possibly too much reliance on certain words (I use "like" a lot, apparently). There is also the feeling that I'm using flashbacks too frequently to show certain things about certain characters instead of letting them work in the moment. That's mostly fair enough. There are two that I'm keeping and I don't care who knows it. There are three that I hate myself and a few I'm not sure about.

What is also funny is one reader preferred the last novel entirely and one prefers this one. Well I ain't doing the last one. I also like this new character a lot. There are three scenes that apparently rock the house (yay!) although one of them needs its setencing trimmed and a minor change so that it doesn't look like our hero is taking a peagun to try and shoot an elephant (he's not stupid).

There have been two analogies made. One political. One comparing it to a Western in certain terms (!). But then many people say the crime novel is the modern equivalent of the old western tales so we'll see.

This has been a toughie to write. Its been all about the plotting so far and now its back to getting the writing on track. I mean getting the sentences right, getting the dialogue on spot and tightening the action.

One reader has been ruthless with the writing. I didn't tell him that this draft was all about story. I did that on purpose. I don't want someone to read the novel and make concessions even at this stage.

The other thing I have noticed is the tendency of these people to apologise. I know I do it, too. Its a horrendous thing being a reader but I guess you have to realise someone would send it straight to an editor if they believed it was perfect. I needed to hear the negatives. Positives are lovely, but what help are they? They're no help. At least not until the bugger's publised, then I fully expect people to feed my tender ego.

But like one reader said, when you say these things, you want to help but you're terribly afraid you'll offend the writer. But like I say if the writer doesn't want to hear these things they shouldn't put the work out for public perusal when they themselves know there is a problem. But even knowing that doesn't make being a reader (or a writer putting their baby before new eyes for the first time) any easier.

Anyway I'm happy with my critters and all is forgiven for their harshness. I expect no less. And I certainly hope the person whom I have been critting can forgive me any stupid or harsh commentary...

I have one more reader coming back but I already know what he's going to say. We've briefly discussed it. I know what I need to do. Let's just hope Wonderful Jane and Smiley Emma enjoy it. After all, they're the ones with the power.

Au revoir


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