Friday, December 2, 2011

Flattery will get you... nowhere

Yes, that's right. It won't get you anywhere if you're searching for constructive feedback. No matter which field, if you have smoke blown up your arse, you might feel all fuzzy inside, but you won't improve what you need improve.
Recently, one of my clients tweeted me that she wasn't happy that I didn't like her book, but as a result she's been through her ms several times and says it's now improved.
I tweeted back that I wasn't paid to make her happy, but to help her make the ms better. I admit, I was harsh with her, but she knew what she had signed up for. Of course I could have told her how great a writer she is and that her book will make it into the bestseller lists. But I prefer honesty over flattery. Always.

A few weeks ago, I had part of my literary fiction piece up on a writers' website and since it's about two writers meeting and getting to know each other through said website, it was easy to relate for its members. My book received raving reviews, from 'I read on, mesmerised' to 'one of the best books I've ever read on here' and a few asked if I'll post more. Two wondered if I could pull off the rather unique style for the complete length of a 80k novel, and one questioned if a reader, who has no writing experience -- let alone participated on a writers' website, would understand the concept. I can safely answer yes to the first question, the second remains to be seen.
Sure the compliments were rather flattering and since I'm extremely shy about this book and hesitant to show it to the world, it was wonderful to know it wasn't dismissed by my fellow scribblers. In fact, only my best friend fell asleep over it, but she said it was difficult to read since she's so close to me. That's about the only negative comment I received and I'm beginning to believe I'm onto something with this manuscript.

Then again, I''m my worst critic and not happy with it. Don't get me wrong, I love the book, I love the prose, I love the honestly that oozes from it, but I find it's not there yet. It needs tweaking here and there, some additions and a few passages will be deleted. And, knowing me, I will work on it until I'm satisfied.
For the time being, the book is in the capable hands of Sean, a wonderful man I met through twitter; he is sort of my target audience, not a writer, but a reader and a smart one, too and he'll be able to answer question number two.

Certainly, we authors are delicate souls, but how will we be able to improve without constructive criticism? The three people who were wondering about the style and the content were the ones mirroring my existing doubts, those niggles in the back of my mind that tell me the ms needs more work. It doesn't mean I'll hit the delete button and the book will never see daylight. No, quite the contrary; it means I'll put all effort into it, to make it as beautiful as it deserves.

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