Oh bollocks... agreed to read friend's novel.

(17 Posts)

And it's awful. I'm 20 pages in out of about 500 and losing the will to live. Anyone got any good advice on giving kind advice that isn't actually 'FFS don't give up the day job'?

SunshineBossaNova Sat 29-Jun-13 01:46:55

You could try the 'shit sandwich' - good point, bad point, good point.

Good luck SGB... <tries to re-block memory of Vogon poetry reading>

BustyDeLaGhetto Sat 29-Jun-13 01:49:11

Fuck. it's not mine is it?

Somethingyesterday Sat 29-Jun-13 02:06:48

Assuming this is not a private fight between you and Ms Ghetto - and assuming you're reading pre-publication..... If its a first draft it may well pick up as it progresses. You can't write 500 pages without getting better at writing. Surely? (I have recently read that "surely" clearly indicates the weak point in an argument.....) S/he may have been feeling their way in the early chapters. Once it's revised some of the good stuff might get moved to the beginning. Or, having arrived at the end, your friend may now have a better idea of how to begin.

Or it could just be really bad. For 500 pages.

BustyDeLaGhetto Sat 29-Jun-13 09:01:23

I hope not! I gave my novel to a few friends to read last week but don't think any of them are on MN so SGB am pretty sure you're not one of them.

Here's the thing. I take criticism really badly but also part of the reason I handed it out was to hear where the wink links are, plot holes, cliches etc etc. So can you pick a few things SGB and focus on those rather than discussing it as a whole? It may sound better that way.

I read a friends novel once. It SUCKED. Flimsy, threadbare plot, badly paced, candyfloss characters, predictable dross. I told him I thought the characters needed fleshing out and he could lose a lot of adjectives. He ignored me, self published and sold LOADS. Now he has an agent and a three book deal. SO WHAT DO I FUCKING KNOW? envy

Snog Sat 29-Jun-13 09:05:06

Is it a genre that you would not usually read yourself?
If so you are probably not the right person to review it?

TunipTheVegedude Sat 29-Jun-13 10:44:25

Do they actually want a sort of 'marks out of ten, is this any good?' response, or can you just stick to 'how to make it better'?

I am on a writers' forum where people critique each other's work and honestly, it is not that difficult to say things in a positive way.

Say what the strengths are as well as the weaknesses, no matter how small the strengths are. And don't say 'this sucks because' but 'you could strengthen this by....'

One of my most useful critting friends, who has actually made an enormous difference to my writing, manages to hardly ever phrase things negatively. She says things like 'I would like to know more about this character. What are his motivations?' rather than 'This character is 2D and you've hardly bothered to develop him at all', and 'I'd like your narrator's voice to be less distanced and more immediate' rather than 'You're doing so much telling-instead-of-showing here I can't identify with her at all.'
It's only when I put her comments side-by-side with those of blunter people that I realise actually they're telling me the same thing.

I think you have to work on the assumption that the friend wants to improve and will find the negatives in what you're saying - don't worry that he might miss them. If he does that's his problem.

Even if he HAS asked you for a no-holds-barred honest assessment, rather than saying 'This is a pile of crap, you'll never be a writer' you can say 'This will probably take a lot of drafts to get it where it needs to be for submission. I recommend [insert name of appropriate beginners' creative writing book] which has some really good stuff on plotting and characterisation.'

pictish Sat 29-Jun-13 10:54:35

I have a pal who is an inspiring writer, and who asks me to read his stuff. I avoid it like the plague, because he sucks really badly. Is deluded.

Awkward.

It's a genre I am not overly expert in but do quite like (and no Busty, it isn't yours. Friend is a bloke and doesn't use MN). I do think there is a possible interesting idea or two in here, but so far it's clunkily written and dull.

TunipTheVegedude Sat 29-Jun-13 11:07:02

'It's an interesting idea and you've made a great start. The main thing is to work on the fluency of your writing and liven it up a bit because it didn't hold my interest as much as this idea potentially could.' wink

schmalex Mon 08-Jul-13 18:07:20

Love it, Turnip!

How about recommending this book? [[http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/aw/d/0060545690 Self editing for Fiction Writers

It's kind of an 'advanced' book in that it assumes you've already completed a manuscript and has some more subtle editing points. I don't think he would be offended to be recommended it (I found it massively useful). But it also covers some of the basics like tension, pacing, not using loads of adverbs, etc.

schmalex Mon 08-Jul-13 18:07:46

Sorry, can't work out how to link...

LadyMaryQuiteContrary Mon 08-Jul-13 18:11:22

'It's not my usual genre and I found it hard to get into the plot, only because I don't read books like this. Once I started I couldn't put it down though, you must be so proud. Just a few things I've picked up on...

Just remember that it takes a very long time to write a book and a great many rewrites. Out it away and come back to it. Do a lot of reading in the meantime, it will really help.'

wink

LadyMaryQuiteContrary Mon 08-Jul-13 18:12:13

Self editing for Fiction Writers Here you go, schmalex. I have this book, it's very useful. smile

Ooh, excellent, thank you, I will try and finish reading the blasted thing tonight and recommend him that book...

GoldiChops Sun 14-Jul-13 21:11:13

Oh eek, this is why I never get anyone I know IRL to read my stuff- in case it's dire! Actually, wait, no one has ever read anything I've written.

A friend once sent me an email with his book in- oh the horror. My eyeballs melted, it was so bad. Like he shook a dictionary on the page and added a thousand commas but not a single full stop. And worse, it was impossible BDSM porn (not judging, its how we knew each other!). As in the young, buxom lady was lead blindfold and naked on a leash in broad daylight down Oxford Street while wearing 10 inch ballet boots. Every single sentence was wrong. In the end I just said I hadn't had time to read it, my laptop was on the blink, etc, then finally said the email file was corrupt. Dear me.

GoldiChops Sun 14-Jul-13 21:12:57

Oh and in the end he self-published, without any revisions or corrections, in paperback and sold it on Amazon. I think he sold 3 copies to mates! Even the title had a typo and the cover pic was his engagement ring from a prior relationship sitting on velvet.... a really fuzzy photo.....

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