Wednesday, June 9, 2010


Supposedly such a simple thing.. You say what you think in a polite way – honesty and bluntness aren’t actually the same thing - and hopefully the recipient is appreciative of it. Providing you haven’t decided to be honest at an entirely inappropriate time (i.e the moment in the wedding ‘does anybody object’ – if you haven’t said it by now too bl@$dy late!). There certainly is a time and place.

That of course brings us around to the people who love drama and feed off negative energy. You know the sort, the ‘friend’ who announces in front of a group of others that you’ve got something stuck in your teeth.. ummm thanks for that…

And then for the writer comes the critique. You’ve asked someone you know to read your MS and give their opinion on it.

Cept they hate it. No matter what they do they can’t ‘get into it’. And so the weeks drag by with no response. You wonder what the heck’s going on? It wasn’t that long and surely they would have mentioned if they were an absolute snail of a reader. So after a good month and a half you confront them.
They’re mortified and apologising while you’re just relieved that’s all the problem is!

I absolutely accept that not all people will like my writing. I personally don’t read many books by male writers. Not because I’m a raving feminist (contrary to what my blog title may suggest – I just believe in equality) but because I find I often can’t connect with the way men write. There are of course exceptions, but more often than not I read books by female authors.

So why this post? A lovely guy who offered to critique my MS ages ago finally fessed up today that it wasn’t his thing. A huge sigh of relief for me as I was beginning to contemplate bodily harm (you have my MS!! My baby!!). I couldn’t help but laugh as he was apologising, I’m not going to hold that against him!

My book is not a ‘full on fantasy’ like some of the books I’ve seen. It’s a chatty narrative and flicks between first and third person which is an unusual approach I know, so if you don’t get it that’s okay.

I know a lot of people consider it an ‘honour’ to be asked to critique someone’s MS and I think that’s very sweet, but really – it’s an honour to me if you’ll consider doing it. It’s a hard job to critique and I appreciate anyone who helps me in this sense, even if you realise you can’t do it. Thanks for trying – I couldn’t ask for anything more.


  1. Great post! I think this is something we don't address often enough. You're right - not every story is for every reader. We need to accept that, and our CP's need to be honest when they can't "get into" one. Well said! :-)

  2. I love your blog title!

    And you're right- not every MS is suited for every critiquer. We all do our best, but sometimes it's hard to find someone who's a great fit for what we've written.

  3. I'm glad that he finally fessed up and its true that opinion is subjective and not everyone likes the same kind of thing!

  4. @ Steph - thanks! My friend Sian thought it up, ain't she clever *grin*

    @ Shannon & CQG - so relieved! That's all I can say ;) I should have asked earlier

  5. :-)

    Yeppers it's MEEEEEE

    I was in the middle of writing a post saying "if you want to send me your work..." when the internet took a strike...

    but yes please i would LOVE to..

    send away.

    it will take me a while but will get through it.
    the only book i have never finished was Animal Farm (yuk) so i will get through it :-)

    anyway better get back to study sooooo much to do


    Sarah / Pixie / Constance / Ginevra (depending on who you talk to )

  6. Great topic-I gave a short story of mine to a female friend months ago, and still, no word. This of course means she didn't like it, and she doesn't want to hurt my feelings, which I told her not to worry about. I would love to hear why she didn't like it, that could more helpful than just telling me you love it, but I'm not sure how to bring it up with her.

  7. Hi Tim - ring her, is only way. I attempted a 'casual' e-mail but got shot down so worked myself up and rang - was rather crisp till truth got revealed *grin*

  8. Hey Nicole - this is a great post! You're right - this is something I worry about constantly. What if people don't TELL me they don't like my work? How would I know I need to fix it?! I'd rather have honest, harsh critiquing rather than fake, flowery compliments any day. I'm glad your friend eventually told you the truth - and it's a valid point. Not all books suit everyone, so make sure you keep it up, because there are lots of people out there that will love it.

  9. I so agree with you. Critiquing is not just a casual thing you throw out to just anyone, and only after hearing crits from betas do you learn who's a good critiquer for your style and who isn't.
    Great post!

  10. This is so true, and it's such a lovely post! I agree with you: critiquing is a tough thing, but it can also be very rewarding!

    Thank you for your comment on my blog!

  11. Choose carefully.
    I'm so lucky to have awesome CP's.

  12. This was an awesome post! It is nice to hear around the blogosphere and needs to be shared more often. If it isn't your type of story don't try and sloath your way through, just be honest and say it's not your thing. It's best not to keep the writer wondering!!