Keeping the balance

DebE —  September 8, 2011 — Leave a comment

Alright, alright… I can’t just be plastering up the good stuff, can I? Actually, this is my blog, so maybe I can. But, it doesn’t feel honest. If all I do is share the nice things that people have said about my work, then those nice things actually lose their shine for me. I think it is because if you read a great comment I have posted, and then you have a look at my work (or already have) and don’t agree with the positive that someone else saw in it, then you’re less likely to believe other reviews I put up, too, aren’t you? If I put up a negative review, and you read my work, and you disagree with it… then you still can’t take the reviews at face value, but, at least you know you can trust ME. So, I’m gonna put it out there… The other day I got this:

“Although you write well and have a good command of the language I find the essential ingredient of good writing – spirit – missing.
After two very long chapters I still don’t quite know where you are heading with this story. It is slow moving and quite frankly, not attention grabbing stuff.
I don’t know for which market you are writing it, but in my opinion if it is aimed at the Y/A market you will have to do a lot of rewriting.
It is a known fact that if the first paragraph does not grab the reader’s attention chances are they would not buy the book. I respectfully suggest you read your opening lines form the perspective of a stranger that has never laid eyes on your work and judge for yourself if a prospective buyer will go ahead with the purchase.
Wishing you every success forward. ”

My problem with it is that I don’t find it constructive at all. It doesn’t say anything specific to help me. Because, I do find the opening paragraphs attention grabbing. And I thought I had written pretty fast paced – the first chapter, anyway. The second is more setting up for what’s to come. In fact, I’ve had people tell me to slow it down… which I did… but have I gone too far?

I must admit that, so far, this review has not influenced my writing at all. For one – I don’t know what they mean by “spirit” (but, I have a sneaking suspicion it may be of the Holy Ghost variety). The review after this was also less than glowing (although, not as bad as this), but it actually pointed out what I did well and what I did less than well, so it was useful to me. (Note, these reviews are only based on the section I have put on YouWriteOn (Chapter 1 and most of Chapter 2)).

That’s a lesson to reviewers. If you are going to say something – good or bad – it is only useful to the creator if you can give an example or two…




Deb E was born in New Zealand’s North Island, but her parents corrected that within months, moving south to Dunedin and staying there. Childhood nights were spent falling asleep to cover versions of Cliff Richard and the Shadows and other Rock ’n Roll classics played by her father’s band, and days were spent dancing to 45 LPs. Many of her first writing experiences were copying down song lyrics. She graduated to scientific reports when she studied a nematophagus fungus in the Zoology department of the University of Otago, trading all traces of popularity for usefulness… then traded both for fiction. Mum of one human & four fur-babies.

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