User Tag List

12 Last

Results 1 to 10 of 11

  1. #1
    Senior Member JivinJeffJones's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    MBTI
    INFP
    Posts
    3,698

    Default What would you do?

    I have a mate whose dream and ambition is to be a writer. I feel partly responsible for that, since I introduced him to Kerouac in his early 20s. He's wanted to be a (beat) writer ever since. It's not an easy-come easy-go ambition either - he's spent a helluva lot of time and effort trying to become a writer. He's already written about 4 screenplays (he tells me), numerous essays and poetry anthologies. He's even found himself a literary agent. He's now in his late 20s and has sent me the first page of his new novel. I've just read it and I don't think much of it. At all. It's only the first page, but still... I haven't read any novels I can think of that I couldn't tell if I was going to like it by the first page.

    I don't know what his type is. I seriously have no clue. If I were to type him according to how he comes across, I'd call him ESTP. His fav. activities include writing, boxing, camping and bow-hunting. But he spends a lot of time on his own (weeks at a time) and is really into writing and poetry. Which doesn't seem to gel too much with the ESTP image.

    I know he's going to want feedback from me. I don't know what I'm going to tell him. What would you do?

  2. #2
    IRL is not real Cimarron's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    MBTI
    ISTJ
    Enneagram
    5w6 sp/so
    Posts
    3,424

    Default

    Sorry I'm not helping, but this is a pretty good general purpose question, and I'm looking forward to the answer, myself. So, bump.

    In similar situations with my friends, I always try to offer some helpful advice. I don't want them to get the impression that their stuff is great, I have to keep them realistic so they won't be disappointed somewhere down the line. But as much as possible I try not to cross the line and hurt their self-esteem too much. It's a tricky balancing act. Any advice is welcome!
    Last edited by Cimarron; 10-29-2008 at 07:14 AM. Reason: on topic content
    You can't spell "justice" without ISTJ.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Moiety's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    MBTI
    ISFJ
    Posts
    6,020

    Default

    Let him deal with the "choosing to pursue your dream VS keeping it real" part and just tell him exactly what you think of his work. It hurts, but living a lie hurts even more I'd say.

  4. #4
    12 and a half weeks BerberElla's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    MBTI
    infp
    Posts
    2,726

    Default

    I had to critique a friends writing before (infj) and I decided to just be completely honest. I pointed out where I thought he had gone wrong, gave him examples of how to change it up a bit, whilst being really careful not to say anything in a hurtful way. I figured with such an important thing it wouldn't do to not be totally upfront about, and at least hearing it from a friend would be less off putting than being criticised by his publisher.

    Unfortunately he shelved the book after telling me he agreed with all my points, he said it wasn't so much what I said, but I am sure he took my critique to heart and it's made me more hesitant to critique anyone elses work since. (you can imagine how guilty I felt lol) He did start it back up again, and I have read the edited version since and it is much better. He met with a publisher a few months ago and I'm not sure the status everything is in right now.

    Anyway I still believe I did the right thing, being honest is much more helpful than not being honest.

    Maybe after you read the book you can make a short list of the things you felt he did wrong, and provide examples of how he could fix them?
    Echo - "So are you trying to say she is Evil"

    DeWitt - "Something far worse, she's an Idealist"

    Berb's Johari Berb's Nohari

  5. #5
    Senior Member JivinJeffJones's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    MBTI
    INFP
    Posts
    3,698

    Default

    Man, I'm in such deep shit.

    Maybe I'll tell him one page is not enough and I need the whole first chapter to give any meaningful feedback.

  6. #6
    12 and a half weeks BerberElla's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    MBTI
    infp
    Posts
    2,726

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by JivinJeffJones View Post
    Man, I'm in such deep shit.

    Maybe I'll tell him one page is not enough and I need the whole first chapter to give any meaningful feedback.
    I would have said that anyway, honestly one page isn't enough, I have read some books that started off badly and improved as they went along. Fingers crossed that this is the case here.
    Echo - "So are you trying to say she is Evil"

    DeWitt - "Something far worse, she's an Idealist"

    Berb's Johari Berb's Nohari

  7. #7
    Senior Member JivinJeffJones's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    MBTI
    INFP
    Posts
    3,698

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by BerberElla View Post
    I would have said that anyway, honestly one page isn't enough, I have read some books that started off badly and improved as they went along. Fingers crossed that this is the case here.
    That's true. On the other hand I could just be digging myself in deeper. It'd eliminate the option of pretending his email got buried by viagraspam, for instance.

  8. #8
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    MBTI
    xxxx
    Posts
    735

    Default

    I edited and critiqued a friends first novel last year, in her case it was her first writing of any kind so I was careful to balance encouragement with truth (she is an INFJ). I didn't want to discourage her so I made sure I told her what I liked as well as what I didn't like. The story wasn't my kind of book and there was a lot of stuff I told her to cut, she didn't like that much and it took her about a year to finally work out for herself that the cuts would improve the story. She did appreciate my honesty and the fact that I went to the effort of thinking of ways to improve the book.

    Sounds like your buddy isn't going to be too discouraged if you say you don't like his story since he's done quite a lot of other writing. You probably shouldn't judge his work from just one page, maybe he just chose a poor way of opening the novel. I'd make sure and say that it's hard to see where the story is going from just one page and ask to see a little more or even to see some of his other work so you can get a feel for how he writes. You might want to clarify why he sent you the page, was he really looking for constructive criticism or did he just want to show his work to someone? Does he need a cheerleader or is he really looking for objectivity?

    Don't lie to him, I know how tempting it is. Make the feedback about you, tell him that the story didn't grab you or that it's not the kind of thing you usually like to read.

  9. #9
    The Destroyer Colors's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    MBTI
    ISTP
    Enneagram
    5x/o
    Posts
    1,271

    Default

    Of course you can't give any feedback from one page. (Unless he's completely forgotten how to spell/capitalize.) Ask for the whole chapter.

    I've been asked to critique friends' writings before (and artwork). I've always been honest. The most important thing is to not immediately give you gut reaction to the piece. I often can see things in a new light given more time, so I'd definitely give yourself some stewing time. My friends have sometimes not agreed with my "suggestions". But that's okay. They're sharing something meaningful and I respect that and they can respect my opinion. (I think they're all onto the fact that I'm completely tactless though, so perhaps their expectations to my critical niceness are reasonable.) 'Sides, when they know you're willing to say it like it is, they appreciate the fair praise too. (They know you're not just being nice.)

    You won't know how he reacts until you give your honest criticism. If he doesn't like it, he won't ask you again, and you won't be in this situation again. Win/win. If he takes it reasonably well.And of course, be supportive.

  10. #10
    Senior Member ThatsWhatHeSaid's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    MBTI
    INTP
    Enneagram
    5w4
    Posts
    7,233

    Default

    You can say YOU DIDN'T LIKE IT without saying IT'S BAD. One is a subjective statement, the other's objective. If you just politely say "you know, it's not my cup of tea," you're being honest without crushing him. Hell, some people might actually enjoy his terrible writing.

Similar Threads

  1. If you had 24 hours to live what would you do?
    By Risen in forum The Bonfire
    Replies: 37
    Last Post: 10-09-2009, 12:11 AM
  2. Replies: 42
    Last Post: 01-05-2009, 05:52 AM
  3. Replies: 67
    Last Post: 10-24-2008, 01:20 AM
  4. What would you do?
    By raindancing in forum The Bonfire
    Replies: 26
    Last Post: 03-31-2008, 08:21 AM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
Single Sign On provided by vBSSO