Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Petting and Pampering the Writer

Let me start this by announcing that subscriptions by email are going away sometime in the middle of this summer, so if you subscribe to any of my blogs, you will no longer be getting those cool emails when I post something. I have no idea if it will be replaced by something else - we'll have to see.

Now on to my post

I have a writer friend on FB. A while back, she asked me to edit one of her books. I'm not a professional writer so I don't charge much, so she was probably trying to save a buck or two, but since we'd never worked together before, I offered to do a sample. She sent me her shortest short story. I don't remember how long it was, but it wasn't very long. 

What she gave me was a nice story that ranged somewhere between erotica and romance. What was there was a spotlight on the girl. The hero was little better than a chess piece - maybe a knight - maybe a king - hard to tell - he filled a slot. Everyone else, all the background people that decorated the background were nothing more than that - decorations.


During the edit, I tried add some life to the story. Admiring looks from the peanut gallery, and movement, dialog, and feelings from her knight. I even thought up a background history for the girl - something to explain her thoughts and actions. Something to give her monetary support. Merely a foundation that didn't need to ever be mentioned in the story, but no one walks in a vacuum. 

She accused me of trying to rewrite her story, but it was only examples and suggestions. She was totally free to disregard everything. Like I say on my website, I will give you everything I think of as I read. You will get questions, opinions, and suggestions in reference to the story, and you will get correction in spelling and alternate words if you've picked the wrong one, bringing up the wrong image. I'll also give you better sentence structure if what you have is unclear. I did all that.

She just wanted help with spelling and punctuation. The rest was 'her style'. Her readers loved what she wrote the way she wrote it. Is she a successful writer? I really have no idea. She did not hire me. What I did made too much work for her. She wanted me to fix her mistakes and then she'd probably not look at the story again before publishing.

Needless to say, she did not hire me to edit her work.

Just the other day, she was offering a new work for anyone to read and give her some feedback. I did not take her up on the offer after the last rebuff - why should I?


She messaged me and wanted to send me that document. Well, okay. I'll give it a go, so I did. I have an editing job ongoing at the moment so I wasn't willing to devote much time to it. I read roughly half of it - enough to know that her style hadn't changed much. 

This story was a vampire story, and frankly I liked the idea. It was new and fresh, however her sentences were long and clunky, and sometimes they were incomplete thoughts making it hard to follow. The first handful of pages were filled with false starts to be explained later or in some other book. She included things about Atlantis which were interesting - I think - if I could have understood her concepts. All us writers like to make up histories, and I'm sure Atlantis would make an awesome anchor to do that with, however, I just didn't understand. 

Rather than taking my feedback as a way to know that maybe she hadn't gotten her point across clearly, she got miffed, saying how could I not know anything about Atlantis? I know about as much as anyone about Atlantis; it's a subject I read about every chance I get. I love the articles and videos I find on FB and on Netflix or YouTube. She also made a reference to numerology - that I know nothing about - an indication that maybe she should explain it better. I know I'm not the only one who doesn't understand that. 

As you might guess, I told her all this in her return email, including pointing out a bad typo that she might not catch otherwise; it wasn't miss-spelled, she'd hyphenated it to get past the little red lines. In response, I got a long tirade about how it was a work in progress and it wasn't supposed to be perfect, and on and on. She accused me of being harsh, of being in a box and being inflexible. It all left me confused. I guess I don't understand what kind of feedback she wants. Pretty much all that's left is petting and pampering, and I've never believed in pampering a writer. You take feedback for how it's offered. If your reader didn't understand something, you try to make it clearer. 

Sorry for the rant, but I had to get it off my chest. 

Thanks for listening.