1. Catrin Lewis
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    Catrin Lewis Contributing Member Contributor

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    Critting for a Friend

    Discussion in 'The Art of Critique' started by Catrin Lewis, Mar 24, 2015.

    Good news and bad news.

    The good news is, I've acquired a second beta reader for my novel The Single Eye, a guy I work with at the Big Blue Box Store. As of last night he's three-quarters of the way through and remembered where he'd gotten to. This tells me he at least finds it readable.

    Last night he finally handed me a CD copy of his own book, which he's shopping to agents. One agent, he tells me, has said she's interested in it. So here I am today, languishing home sick with a cold, and I've been reading his effort.

    The bad news? Though the adventure story premise is intriguing enough, the characters are a colossal pain in the arse. They're supposed to be professionals but they lack the basic knowledge for their field, they haven't the common sense they were born with, and they're always provoking and getting into inexplicable fights for the shallowest of reasons, even when doing so will directly thwart them from achieving their goal.

    At this point (eight chapters--only about 8,000 words-- in) I'm wondering if I mistook the genre. I'm pretty sure my coworker said it's an adventure-mystery-horror novel. But so far it's reading like Indiana Jones Meets the Marx Brothers, with a heavy dollop of White Men Can't Jump thrown in. (And let me say that WMCJ is the one film my friends and I rented in grad school that none of us could stand to finish watching, it was so stupid).

    I'll likely soldier the rest of the way through. But what do I say to him when I'm done? Get him to critique mine first in case I make him mad? Gently find out what the genre's really supposed to be and give my crit accordingly?

    The only reason I can imagine that any agent is interested in this is because there's a market here for random, unmotivated, over-the-top violence. I hope that's not it. Maybe the book gets better . . .
     
  2. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    That's tough. I just gave someone feedback about their book and it needed a lot of work. But hopefully I was more helpful than critical.

    My critique group calls it the sandwich method: wrap the bad inside two goods.

    The good, he has a whole story. You know how hard that is? For some writers, it is their key stumbling block.

    The bad: He lacks skills that are learnable (emphasis on learnable). Ask him if he wants honest, helpful feedback that can help him get published, or would he rather not hear that from a friend? Get it out there.

    The story is intriguing. The characters are not convincing. I hear it often in critique, "you haven't made me care about the characters." In this case it's partly because the characters are flat when they lack the depth of a skilled [X]. Ask him if he's going for comedic characters or serious characters and go from there.
     
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  3. Megalith
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    Megalith Contributing Member Contributor

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    Sounds rough. I wouldn't hold back though. It will make him try more to tear your book apart. It is an incentive to be as harsh as possible at that point. Just don't take it all to heart, no matter what he says. It's an only an opinion and as such, can be as helpful as it can be detrimental. But if he's praising you for praising him then that doesn't help anybody.
     
  4. Catrin Lewis
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    Catrin Lewis Contributing Member Contributor

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    True.
     

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