Letting a lover read your work

Discussion in 'The Art of Critique' started by deadrats, Jul 6, 2017.

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  1. jannert

    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I do think it helps if you can provide your beta with a short list of questions to consider as they read. They might not understand what you mean by 'feedback,' unless you are specific beforehand.
     
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  2. LostThePlot

    LostThePlot Contributing Member Contributor

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    And why not, being petty is very satisfying.

    Maybe this highlights our differences as people but my experience is typically that when I say "I've written a book" most people look slightly scared. Upon hearing I write teen romance that moves close to panic. I don't know what I did (specifically anyway) to make people think the prospect of a romance written by me is terrifying but I would quite like to find out. I mean, they aren't wrong as such, but even those with rarified sensibilities make assumptions.
     
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  3. jannert

    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Do they ever ask if they could read it? If not, have you got any idea why? Strange. Maybe it's the 'teen' thing that puts them off? Why not try mentioning something about what the book is about—the setting and characters—rather than the age group you're aiming at?

    I found when people asked me, or I mentioned I was writing a book, I always said it was 'set in the old west, but it's not a western.' I had people queuing up to read it. (In fact, that was a problem, because I ended up giving up my first awful draft to too many people. I wish I had saved more of them for my subsequent revisions ...but that's another story.)
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2017
  4. LostThePlot

    LostThePlot Contributing Member Contributor

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    It's definitely because they know me.

    People immediately start to figure out what sort of thing I would write and pretty much just assume the worst and decide they really don't want to deal with that. This only gets worse when you say you write in a relatively inoffensive genre. Imagine David Lynch just told you that he's directing the next series of Peppa Pig. Somehow that doesn't make you more confident that he'll tone down the weirdness, does it? If anything the combination of 'notoriously dark' and 'for kids' makes it worse, doesn't it?

    I can't really say I haven't courted that kind of reputation. In fact I've gone to specific efforts to that end. But it does make it harder to make people want to read your books.
     
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  5. jannert

    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Yeeks. However, I'd be less likely to want to read a teen romance from a teenaged romantic. I love the potential for surprise, and it sounds as if you're a bundle of surprises. You just need to encounter the right reader. Somebody whose eyes light up at the thought that you YOU you wrote a teen romance. I'm sure those folks are out there. Somewhere.

    David Lynch and Peppa Pig? Sounds unmissable to me.
     
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  6. LostThePlot

    LostThePlot Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well as I say, there is a certain kind of person to whom teen books written by me instantly peaks their curiosity. However the only one I know is my former house mate Gary who I spent some years drinking and doing drugs with and who has the kind of rarified sensibilities to immediately like my work just on spec. Unfortunately not a big a reader.

    This is uniquely a problem with beta-readers though. As you suggest there is already a problem in trying to convince people (mostly men) that a teen book could ever speak to them anyway, and when you add to that all of the surprises that being written by me implies then it's having to argue in two different directions just to get them to take a look at something. Someone who has zero interest in the genre as well as who maybe suspects that anything I write is going to be too far out there for them anyway, well, yeah that's really hard to get people wanting to put the time in.

    But when I'm sending my work to agents who handle teen books suddenly my work becomes much more interesting to them. It's something they already want to read with one extra unique element (the weird, dark bits) on top and while I am yet to conquer the world, I have gotten good responses to my writing from them. They don't know me, they don't know how dark I like things to be, they don't know that I've already toned things down a lot in editing to get it right. They just know this is a book with a bit more edge and angst than usual and thus it doesn't count against me the kind of person that they think I am.

    Even when people don't know me, just talking on places like this means people start to pick up an idea of my style. They know I like writing horrible things. They know I like deep, wrenching emotional pain. Even on a more general level, they know I write character focused books with a focus on emotional moments. And even when people say that sounds great, it's really hard to get them to read my teen books as opposed to the grown up ones I wrote before. My teen books are written to be challenging, but challenging to teenagers and that (seemingly) takes the edge off it so even if you are really into this stuff then you'd rather get the 'pure' version.

    I am yet to meet anyone who has wanted to read any of my teen books. People generally like the ideas. If I tell them what's in them then they like the sound of them. I've made people cry telling them about my books. And I take that as a great compliment. But even people who really love what I'm doing don't actually want to read them. The only person who's read anything I've read in the past two years has been my mum who proofed my first teen book and I had to talk her into it. It's just a factor of being a guy like me writing weird books for teenage girls. All of those words are potential hurdles.

    Sadly my parole office strongly objected to my hanging around outside the local girls school :p. I am yet to explore if there actually are any online groups of teens to perhaps find feedback from; at least to give me a way to conquer some of the hurdles of perception and just get people to read the first few chapters without knowing anything else. I think that if I can get that kind of beta-reader then they'll love my work, I'm just trying to figure out how to get there without introducing myself or what I write, you know?
     
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  7. jannert

    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I assume you're joking about the parole ossifer?
     
  8. LostThePlot

    LostThePlot Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yes. Although I have to imagine that I would acquire such an officer fairly quickly if I spent my time hanging around outside a girls school. Somehow I doubt 'it's for research, honest guv!' isn't going to cut it.

    Alas, long gone are the days when I could park up outside the playground and take schoolgirls drinking with me. At least back then I had the defense of being their age which, while disreputable, is a bit more acceptable.
     
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  9. jannert

    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Aye, but you could probably get them to read your work. Worth a try? Think of all the revision you could do, sitting in the pokey.
     
  10. LostThePlot

    LostThePlot Contributing Member Contributor

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    I really would prefer to hang out with teenage girls without going to prison. Is that too much to ask?
     
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  11. jannert

    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    If you're an old fart, yep, probably too much to ask. If you're young and sprightly, well get in there while you still are.
     
  12. LostThePlot

    LostThePlot Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm definitely sprightly but I have just turned thirty :(. But I still have so much angst!
     
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  13. jannert

    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    You're just a child. But a kinda old one. Yeah, hanging out at school grounds is probably a mistake. You'll just have to ask all those elderly teenagers you know of 30+ what they remember about school days, I reckon. At least they should still have memory.
     
  14. LostThePlot

    LostThePlot Contributing Member Contributor

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    I try, but alas my fiance won't read my books either.
     
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  15. Kater

    Kater New Member

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    My fiance and I share our work from time to time. Neither of us has written much lately, so it's been awhile. We do love talking about our work with each other and bouncing ideas off each other; we're both the richer for it. I can be quite shy about my writing and probably wouldn't do well with her reading my work right in front of me at home, so when the time comes I'll probably put my draft on her Kindle and she can read it on her break at work and give me feedback later, hahaha.
     
  16. Mckk

    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    My husband doesn't enjoy fiction and generally isn't a reader. Like he reads articles and such, the news, but almost never books. I think he's managed two or three non-fiction ones that were recommended or given to him, but that's about it. However, he did read my novel without me even asking when it was done :) and he's always happy to hear me read him a scene or talk about my stories. He can be useful for vetting whether something's realistic, but that's about it.

    Reading a scene to him can be a pain though because he switches on and off and being a non-native English speaker, there are often words he doesn't understand... Don't get me wrong, his English is excellent and when it comes to business and academic English, he's better than me, but since he doesn't read fiction and he's non-native, there are just too many words he never really sees...
     
  17. Endersdragon

    Endersdragon Member

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    I'm letting my sorta girlfriend read my work... but that's at least somewhat because she's written a lot as well and is quite blunt at times lol so I figure she might have some decent advice.
     
  18. Damien Loveshaft

    Damien Loveshaft Member

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    My S.O. and I have similar reading and writing habits so it only seems natural. However he and I also rpg together so I don't think there's anything left for us to be shy about if we see each others crap off the cuff story telling.

    As far as making a non writer a good beta reader I recommend finding well spoken individual who can explain thoroughly why they do or don't like a book. If they can't express these things it's not going to work. Hmm... So I guess they'd need a course on novel structure and such.
     
  19. JadeX

    JadeX Contributing Member

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    I've tried, but he doesn't really like reading. I've written about 5 chapters of my novel so far, and he stopped after 2. It's a horse-to-water scenario. Reading just isn't his thing. (That's okay though, I have a friend that reads my stuff and gives feedback. Sure would be nice if my SO would, though...)

    I have written a short story which he read, though. It was my first attempt at the horror genre, which is his favorite, and he wasn't shy at all about being blunt and telling me it sucked and that I should stick with what I've been doing - which I'm glad for, because A) it means he won't lie just to make me feel good, he'll give me his real honest opinions and I appreciate that, and B) it quickly deflated any delusions I may have had of becoming the next HP Lovecraft, and instead forced me to give more thought to my novel and return to working on it after I'd almost given up on it.
     
  20. The Dapper Hooligan

    The Dapper Hooligan Contributing Member

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    I don't really have an S.O. at the moment, but I generally don't get them to read my work. If they really want to read it, I will oblige, but I'll usually give them a later revision. Getting people involved while I'm actually writing a first draft kind of kills my workflow. If I'm in a new relationship, though, I try to hold off on them reading anything just because most people tend to assume that what I write is an accurate reflection of who I am and it can put some weird expectation in a relationship when you write piece work. It's usually best to wait until someone actually decently knows me before introducing them to that sort of stuff.
     

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