You know, as reviewers of your fiction.
My dad stayed over night last night and wanted to read my work. I gave him the first scene. It took him awhile to get through the 14 double spaced printed pages, but he did. I got back from a meeting at 9pm, and he asked for more — “You aren’t going to leave me hanging, are you? I have to know what happens next.”
Music to my ears, but was it authentic? Though he picked out a type, is he qualified to give an opinion? Was this an opinion? The trouble with my story is you need to read the next forty pages to appreciate where I go with it. We stayed up until 2am and watched game #4 of the Stanley Cup finals. He read while we watched, asked me lots of questions, and we discussed writing. He has a PhD in music composition so can relate to writing notes, themes, objectives, etc. He is writing an opera, so he understands drama as well. His wife (not my mother) also read it. The gave me more “this is good” and “this is definitely publishable” comments scattered throughout our morning of me being a taxi driver for them.
Yeah, it feels good. My limited queries told me they were affected as I’d hoped, even more so in some regards like the interaction with the woman — “they are obviously going to get together.” Well, maybe.
I have so much left to do. I have spent 80% of my effort on the first 20% of the story. “Arrgh!” So much left to do. So many gaps to fill in. So many plot lines to organize. So much theme to apply.
Have I ever said I think I finally understand my story? I think I know who my character is, why he is the way he is, and how he changes, transforms. I know all the drivers. I know how the ship gets on its journey to the center of the earth, all of the obstacles in its path, how it overcomes them, and how it brings the important people home safely. I know how the hero’s journey should play out.
Sandford Lyne says to write affirmations and repeat them until you believe them. Consider this posting a big affirmation for myself. I will complete this novel successfully. I will get it published. It will generate only five star reviews and tens of millions of sales. Yes, it is that kind of book and I am that kind of writer. I write fiction.
In general I’ve found that you need to be selective about the family members you ask for reviews from. Some of them are just going to tell you it’s great just because they don’t want to hurt your feelings. You need to find the family members who aren’t afraid to be blunt but who know how to do it in a way that won’t make you feel like garbage. You need to find the family member who knows how to give plain, informative, and constructive criticism. It’s not that it’s impossible to have family critique your work it is just that it’s hard to find family members who won’t sugarcoat everything..
I find the same with fellow writers. Many do not know how to critique or are afraid to. I guess we all value our rare relationships with other writers so much that we avoid jeopardizing them.