Don’t read other words like a critic looking for the good, bad, and ugly. Read to discover what the author did well and how they did it.
This is reading like a writer, like a wordsmith.
Atwood says she will only review something if she likes it. She is not a critic and won’t write a bad review.
One of my friends told me he won’t even write a bad yelp review. He says, I praise those who deserve it, but it’s not my place to criticize.
I thought this was a great idea.
If you feel you must say something to alert other readers, then be honest and specific, but do add at least one good thing about the book, story, movie, service etc.
Plath was one of the original “confessional poets,” and her poetry, at first, was not well received. Her poetry, however, spoke to many. Much love for the Plath!
Neil Gaiman says lies are what fiction is made of. Well, yes, but….
He says, we make up people and places and put them in circumstances which aren’t true. Yes, well, but…
But we tell some sort of universal truth with these lies and that’s what makes it good fiction.
Gaiman is all about honesty, so I’m surprised he calls what we do lies. I don’t consider fiction lies. But I can see how people think it is. But then, do we call writers liars? I would hope not.
There’s a difference, isn’t there? I, personally, keep my life honest. I appreciate honesty from everyone in my circle and will not continue to be around people who are known to have lied.
Plato believed fiction was dangerous to society. He wrote in “dialogues” to teach philosophy or what he believed philosophical truths.
He was fictionalizing these dialogues. And if fictions, like philosophy, seek truth and honesty, aren’t they important?
Gaiman says the magic of fiction is the big, important truth.
I guess, if the fiction doesn’t tell us a truth, it has been a waste of our time, of our words, and is, therefore, a lie.
Many years ago, I was taking two classes simultaneously: Feminism and Fairy Tales and Women Writers.
I feel that it was these two classes, taken nearly at the same time, that subverted my point of view about stories I’ve known all my life. And I began to question things.
In one of the original tales of Snow White, she was already dead, lying in a casket, when the Prince, on his white horse, happened by….
SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT!
…the woods where the dwarfs mourned her.
He offered them money to bring the dead body and the casket to his kingdom. (Of course, no, no, they couldn’t take money. Then he promised he would take care of her/the casket – that they agreed to).
WHY DOES THE PRINCE WANT THE DEAD BODY OF A WOMAN?????
Part of being a writer is to question the world around you. Question what you believe to be true. This will give you fodder for stories.
Did you know that in The Three Little Pigs the wolf was framed? You can see the how – the only witnesses were the little pigs themselves, but why??? Why would they have wanted the wolf off the the land?
We tell our students to do this – visualize what you want to happen.
Take your visualization a step further, especially if you’ve lost hope or are having a hard time finishing a work:
Create the cover for your book. Maybe slap an award on that cover.
Write a famous person’s review for that book then add quotes to the back cover.
Write the copy for the inside jacket cover.
Hang it or place it on your desk where you will see it every day.
Science says, visualization can help us get to where we want to be!
We’ve heard that we should read aloud to ourselves. And we absolutely know this works. We are able to hear our mistakes, rewrite and hear it a different way to see if it sounds better.
But how many of us actually do it?
Back in the day (as my students say), copy-editors and writers read the work aloud with one another or within a group to catch mistakes before publications. Some critique groups do this as well.
When I read aloud, it sounds the way I think I want it to sound. It helps me to have someone else read it to me while I’m reading it on the screen.
This is what I suggest. Microsoft word has a setting that will read the text to you. I’ve found this incredibly helpful.
There are a number of programs if you don’t have microsoft or can’t stand the monotone.
Some writers record themselves reading the story, then listen to it while they reread in order to catch mistakes.
Let’s be honest – we all make mistakes. And to be more honest – it doesn’t look good in publication. Unfortunately, I’ve sent things out with mistakes. Fortunately, I’ve had some great editors (and publishers) who called my attention to these errors.