When I see that a blogger whose work I’ve read has posted a piece of fiction for others to look at, more often than not I skip it. I do this for two, intertwined reasons:
1. I’m a book reviewer and published author.
2. I can’t hide my feelings—if I don’t like something, I can’t say otherwise.
I know that these people aren’t looking for the kind of criticism I regularly give to books. I can’t just turn off the parts of my brain that note all the painfully trite material and the cardboard characters. So, in the interests of not hurting their feelings, I just pretend I didn’t notice those blog posts.
The irony of it is, most of these folks say (and do honestly believe) that they want criticism. Unfortunately, what they don’t realize is that not all criticism is the same. When they’re just starting out they need a sort of broad-level critique of such elements as character and plot (without delving into the nit-picky details of word choice and such), tempered with a good dose of encouragement.
They aren’t likely to get that by posting on a blog. Most of the folks who read what they wrote are going to have an easier time noting mis-spellings and awkward word choices than the base-level issues they should be working on first. Also, because of a whole combination of factors (the natural defensive reaction to criticism; the fact that the blogger probably has no real idea how in-depth good criticism can be; the natural desire of others in the blogger’s circle of friends to bolster him with encouragement), anyone who does try to be helpful with honest criticism will probably be shouted down or driven away.
People who want to work on their writing are far better off either joining a workshop group with folks of a similar level of ability, or taking creative writing classes from a decent teacher. Most of them need to work gradually up to a thorough level of criticism, not jump straight into the deep end of the pool, and it would be mean of me to give them the full brunt of something they’re not ready for.
Anyway, I kind of got off-track here. To reiterate, because of all these things, I largely skip over any postings of fiction on most blogs I read. If I can honestly say that I haven’t read a piece yet then I don’t have to worry about hurting someone’s feelings. Thus it was with mild trepidation that I read Skin to Skin [read my review], by a blogger whose snarky reviews I love: Dionne Galace. Not as much trepidation as usual, mind you, because this was published by an actual e-book publisher and I have a fair amount of faith in her ability at this point. But still. I knew that if I read it and hated it, I wouldn’t be able to say otherwise.
So, it’s a good thing that I liked it! I found the beginning to be a bit awkward, but for a debut piece by a fresh author, that’s hardly a sin. After all, I’ve reviewed full-length novels lately that as far as I’m concerned never should have been published in the state they were in.
Therefore, if you like romance/erotica, I definitely suggest that you check out her novella. It’s an inexpensive download, and it’s a helluva fun read!
I don’t tell my characters what to do.
I just take dictation!
“I know that these people aren’t looking for the kind of criticism I regularly give to books. I can’t just turn off the parts of my brain that note all the painfully trite material and the cardboard characters. So, in the interests of not hurting their feelings, I just pretend I didn’t notice those blog posts.”
Now I know how you really feel! 🙂
*grin* Now you know how unusual it was that I read your piece and told you I liked it. I think I do often tend to skim the first line or two, so I don’t miss something like that piece you posted that I liked. But, it does mean that if I say I like something, I definitely mean it! Someone who’s at a higher level of skill, like you are, can potentially get more out of posting material like that, IMO, than a beginner can, because you’re ready for a wider array of feedback and don’t need to start with the basics.
🙂 That makes me very happy to hear, Heather. And also it dooms you. I have your e-mail address and I’ll be using it when I have something substantial that needs a careful eye. 😛 *cue evil laugh*
lol! Well I’ll do my best to help. And you’re welcome!