Thursday, January 22, 2009

Marvelous or Not

James Earl Jones reading.






I have always been a bit suspicious of my husband's assessments of my writing. This week proved me right. I mistakenly gave him only half of a story to read, which he then proclaimed marvelous.
Yes, I said, after discovering the missing pages, but didn't you find the end a bit sudden, a bit lacking.
"Uh......"
Do you have a reader you can trust with your work? I can trust him to prop me up when I need it. Not that there's anything wrong with that. But where's the critical voice?

17 comments:

John McFetridge said...

You have to be careful about a "critical voice." You want some help making your work better, but it's really up to you.

There's no objective view - even editors will just pick the stories they like best.

I took many creative writing classes in university and I can't remember a thing from any of them.

Sorry, this isn't helpful at all.

George said...

Most men have learned a long time ago that when their wife (or girlfriend) asks for their critical opinion, honesty is impossible. It's best to say something like, "That's great, dear." Honest criticism usually results in a night of sleeping on the couch.

Scott Parker said...

My wife's pretty honest with me, even to the point that she'll state flat out "It doesn't work for me." My critique group is also good, especially the organizer. He'll lay into you if you did something wrong.

Jacob Weaver said...

I agree with George, nothing good can come from giving your wife your honest opinion. That's Chapter 1 in "How To Be A Husband For Dummies".

I haven't asked anyone to read my writings yet but when the time comes I plan to ask my father. He couldn't give me the specific details but he could probably give me general areas to work on.

Cullen Gallagher said...

I'm cautious about who I show first drafts to. Some people I know will give me blind praise with no feedback whatsoever, while my brother is sometimes inclined to criticize blindly. Luckily, I do have a friend who is a great editor and who offers strong, constructive feedback. He's also a writer, which I think makes a big difference. He understands about drafting, and how to develop a piece of writing.

Sandra Scoppettone said...

My first reader is my partner. She's always been completely honest with me. I've not always taken the criticism with dignity, but eventually if I find she's right I make the change. There are times I don't agree and ignore what she tells me. I am also her first reader.

We write entirely different types of novels and perhaps that's why it works.

Todd Mason said...

I agree with John (except for his incorrect last sentence)...if you are satisfied with your work, get it out into the marketplace. If you're not, then suggestions might...might...be useful. Workshops that are staffed by artists who both know what they're talking about and how to impart that usefully might help with the technical details of the writing craft. Other groups are chat circles or mutual support groups and aren't relevant nor helpful except as such. Many are pointless. I know a fellow who went through Clarion, has never sold a story, keeps generating promising rough drafts (or used to) and never went through and revised anything or apparently gave any of his stories a second go at all, and mocked me for submitting to token-pay markets...while apparently spending all of his efforts in attempting to wow his circle of amateur writers.

Read Kate Wilhelm's STORYTELLER.

Unlike Sandra's, your partner is not a professional writer, a working artist. It's not necessarily fair to ask him to serve as one.

beauvallet said...

I belong to a diverse writer's group. Most of us are too kind to each other, but our leader always stands ready with ideas for improvement or clarification. Sometimes we, as a group or individually, agree or not but it's up to the author to decide whether there is substance to the criticism.

ARCHAVIST said...

It's hard for friends and loved one to be honest - so I get my ex-wife to read mine.

Charles Gramlich said...

Lana says she loves everything I do. I'm generally my own critical voice.

Paul D.Brazill said...

Archavist! You, sir, are a very brave man!I doff my hat to you!

pattinase (abbott) said...

Grandson just left. Exhausted.
No, I really like having a critical voice to read it. My writing group only hears it aloud so they don't have time to react on more than a cursory level.
That's true about university courses. They kept you busy reading bad stories from other students. But it did make me write before it came naturally.
I could use an ex-husband. But after 42 years, it's unlikely I'll get one. I read his stuff too but with a sharp red pencil in hand. Easier to critique scholarly stuff than fiction.

Jerry House said...

Critical voice? Sorry, Patti, my mother-in-law has passed away.

pattinase (abbott) said...

HA! Jerry. I hope my SIL isn't saying that. His book comes out in the Fall and I LOVED IT.

Barrie said...

Not my husband! ;) Thank goodness I have a great critique group. One posted on my blog yesterday. :)

pattinase (abbott) said...

Yes, that's what I need.

Todd Mason said...

Easier to copy-edit if one is primarily a writer than if one uses writing to another purpose.

As the previous cohabitant with a biology major and medical student (two different women), I certainly have had that experience, extensively.