I've been reading a friend's first draft over the last few weeks. It's his first novel and it's very good. I've been putting my thoughts and comments in the review bar for him to implement or ignore depending on what he thinks. Reading someone else's work with a critical eye is so much easier than reading your own work with a red pen. Those slips of points-of-view become blatantly obvious and it's easier to spot those beautiful, lyrical paragraphs that do nothing to advance the plot.

However when you know the person it does become more difficult. Initially he asked if I would act as editor but I had to say no. You see I recognise the places he is describing.I've ate the soup his characters make. This makes for a very emotionally charged reading which definitely adds to the novel's impact. On the other hand, it also means I might be filling in gaps in the text. I'm too close to the content to be completely objective. I'm slipping into memories as well as imaginings.

Years ago, I edited a first draft for someone else and that was a different experience. It was a professional contract. I had little personal contact with the author. I could edit openly and dispassionately . . .or as dispassionate as you can be when dealing with a misery memoir!

Letting other people read your work is an important step in the process of writing and editing. It helps to hone your book before it reaches its finished state. My friend, obviously, decided to share his work with friends who were keen readers. I've opted for using a writers' website. You see, I know my friends can't be unbiased. However, I'm pretty hopeful that a writer who could be anywhere else in the world and has no knowledge of my life or experiences, can only be unbiased!

Sometimes I rail against the comments I recieve from the writers' website but more often than not, I'm extremely grateful. They point out ommissions. They ask pertinent questions. Also, for some reason, seeing my work on a website gives me a bit of emotional distance from it that helps me to wield my red pen.

I also signed up for a writing workshop with Nicola Morgan and received a critique on the first 20 pages of one of my novels. Nicola is a published author who runs a consultancy service. She is probably the most qualified person who has ever read anything I've written, and that includes the tutors of the creative writing courses I've attended. Her comments were insightful and constructive. They also helped me to see just how much work I still have to do.
Who do you trust to critique your work? And are you enjoying the re-writing process?

Leave a Reply.