So you can read my books

Thursday, January 21, 2016


Wonder why you give your book to your friend, 
 and he or she never gets back to you 
or gives your non-feedback?

Look at it from their side:

Aren’t novels all about pleasure? 

And so the deeper the friendship the harder you may find it to begin your friend’s book—

the potential for disappointment enhanced by each heightening degree of affection. 

That stifled inner voice makes another declaration: “I’ll prove how much I like you by never reading your book.”

Then, there are the words of Jesus:

 "Truly I tell you," he continued, "no prophet is accepted in his hometown."

When those who know you read your book, they do not read your prose; 

they see the person whom they believe they know.

They also "hear" your voice when they read the dialogue.

Who believes their friend Angelina Jolie or Brad Pitt?  

They find it hard to reconcile their image of you to the drama inside your novel.

It comes off unrealistic to them even if to a stranger it would be riveting.

That leads us to critique partners:

Sometimes the longer they know you, the less helpful their advice becomes.

They no longer see your prose as it is but as it was.  

You are no longer a stranger to whom they can be objective.

Finding the right critique partner is as hard as finding the right spouse. 

 And look at the divorce rates these days.



  1. I've yet to form or find a critique group. I am still in the fumbling in the dark phase.

    1. Actually, all of us are still in the fumbling around in the dark phase. Some are just better at faking it than others. :-)

  2. Is this a hint that I need to read that sample? I have it still sitting in my inbox, but I had to complete a lot of admin paperwork this month and in December (reports). I have not forgotten.
    I think it's important to have a critique partner who writes or edits so they understand what you need to know, and they need to be truthful about what they see as gaps or problems. I don't like critique groups as my experience with them has been not good - especially if they don't have some expertise in how to critique. I prefer to have a few reliable readers. It's good if the critiquing is reciprocal, if you like the style of writing or the genre. I find it hard to read something I have no interest in (some genres).

    1. maybe I need a critique on my comments. I meant 'has not been good'. . .

    2. All of us in our comments tend to flup at times. No worry!

      In critique groups I've noticed the cruel streak rises to the forefront. :-(

      Even the best critique partner can only tell you how they would write your piece. Can you imagine E E Cummings telling Emily Dickinson how to write her poetry?:-)

  3. I think I am very lucky as I have a best friend who is not only an avid reader, but not afraid to tell me when something isn't working in my book. Whenever I am writing she is right there demanding my book chapter by chapter as I write, and I love that. Especially when there is a chapter, like I have at present where I no something isn't right but just can't put my finger on what. I guess I just got lucky.

    1. Neil Gaiman wrote that when a reader tells us something is off, it is. :-) But when they tell us how to fix it, they are wrong!

  4. hmmm...I can't decide if that is genius, or just a sad commentary. I certainly know I visualized the writer of pieces I've critted in critique group. So it makes complete sense. Makes it hard to find someone to get feedback from.

  5. It is why competent strangers make the best critique partners. I do not claim genius only revelation after some reflection! :-)

  6. You are very correct that close friends read my works differently than folks with whom I have only passing or no acquaintance.

    I do recall one of my sisters read my first novel...eventually, and her remark? "It was really good." Ummm, yeah, that was the objective ;) She reads a lot, and I don't think she thought my stories would match up with the big names. At least in her eyes, I managed to do well enough in that arena.

    The thing is, I gave her the copy, with no obligation or expectation, and never mentioned it again.

    A fair number of my co-workers read my books, but not every one, and I try to make sure that they know it's okay.

    At least that's my experience.

    1. Yes, Terry. I've found most who know us cannot separate the US we know from WHAT or HOW WELL we write.

  7. Hi Roland .. this hasn't happened yet - but I can see it happening. I think I'll have to use my blogging friends, who recognise and know my voice ... the cheater's way to overcome potential adversity of being criticised! I can see competent strangers would make sense - a local, who can help, and who will offer sensible advice .. cheers Hilary

    1. That has been my experience at least. It is hard for most to separate us from what we write if they know us. :-)