Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Stringing Me Along

We writers want people to love our work.  We live for the shower of affection that comes with someone saying, "That was some of the best stuff I've ever read!"  This is one of the reasons we share our work to begin with.

Unfortunately, not everyone is as into reading as we are.  I'm not going to say that I don't care what someone thinks about my work, but I understand that reading tastes are subjective, so if you don't like something I wrote, there's a chance someone else will.  However, don't string me along by telling me you've loved what I wrote and then not be able to prove it by telling me specifically why.

This happened to me recently.  I mentioned to a colleague that I've written several novels, and he asked to see the one that he said sounded like it was up his alley.  With the subtlety of a college freshman looking to score for the first time, I rushed out to print off a copy of the first few chapters, laid them on his desk, and silently sat back to wait to hear what he thought.

The silent part was hard.  I didn't want to come across as some love struck high-schooler who wanted to know if a second date was possible, so I didn't say a word.  However, somewhere around the two week mark, I started wondering if he even picked it up.

"Sure did," he said.  "It was great!"

Relief passed through me like a current, and I pressed him for details.  "What did you think worked?  Did the fight scene grab you, or was it the part afterwards where Seth was inducted into the Order of Mount Sion?"

"Um, well it was all pretty good," he replied.  "I didn't really have a favorite part."

Of course my antennae perked up at this point, so I threw out a trap.  "What did you think of the various vampire tribes having different abilities?"

"Oh, that was great.  Really made me think about the whole vampire lore."

At this point, I knew he was full of shit.  That's not to say that the vampires in Akeldama don't have different abilities based on tribe - they do - but that part was much later in my novel, and I didn't give him that.  We had a polite discussion about leading me on, and I reclaimed what I gave him.

Again, if what I wrote isn't for you, that's fine, but don't lie to me.  If you're not going to read it, just say so.  You won't hurt my feelings, and I'll have more respect for you in the end.  Not everybody likes to read, or their life gets busy.  It's okay to say "no thanks;" you don't need to act interested out of politeness.  By wasting my time with you, I lose out on others I could get to read my work.  Just like you, my time is precious as well, and I'd rather spend it with someone who might give me real feedback rather than just a pat on the head,


  1. Ack, this is so frustrating when that happens! I hate when people give a polite critique that says NOTHING. It doesn't help me at all. Everyone has an opinion about stories, too, so it makes sense that someone may not like a story.

    1. Sorry it took so long to reply to your comment. The new job is killing my time.

      I agree with you. Polite is nice, but not when I want feedback. If you didn't read it, just say so. I'll respect the honesty more.