Guest Post: Author Judy Nichols
November 27, 2010 § 52 Comments
Jody Nichols is a Mystery & Thrillers author and so far she had written books, “Caviar Dreams” and “Tree Huggers”. I’m hereby so delighted to welcome Judy Nichols at Coffee N Crackers.
“Just Give Me Your Honest Opinion”
It happens to nearly every successful writer and many of the not so successful ones. A friend approaches you, clutching the pages of a short story, or a poem, or the first few chapters of a novel, sheepishly requesting you read it and give your “honest” opinion.
You smile and say sure, you’d love to, even though you’d rather have a root canal. After putting it off as long as you can, you sit down and give the work-in-progress a read and immediately wish you hadn’t. Because it’s really, really bad.It’s so full of adverbs and hackneyed phrases that you’re not even sure there’s a story in there. And when you do find that story, you realize you’ve read it a hundred times already. You like this person and you know very well your honest opinion would wound them to the core.So what do you do?
I always think back to my friend Steve, who was an accomplished poet and a sharp critic to those in his writing group. I had a flat mate then who fancied herself a poet. She requested that I ask Steve to read some of her poems. At the time I didn’t know much about writing poetry, (still don’t) but I could tell that hers wasn’t any good. Lots of tired imagery and cliches. Not to mention the adverbs.I figured Steve would eat her alive. But when he returned her work, he smiled and said “I see some good things here, and I think you should continue your writing.” And then he recommended she join a writing group or enroll in the local university’s creative writing program. She looked a bit disappointed, but thanked him and went off to her room. When she was out of earshot, I asked him what good things could he possibly have seen in her poetry..
“Noun-verb agreement. Correct spelling,” he replied. Then he went on to say that anyone who writes should be encouraged to keep at it. The university courses would only make her writing better and if she was serious about it, she could become a good writer. Even a great one. Every writer has to start from somewhere. So I always read the manuscripts, and I always look for good things, even if it is just noun-verb agreement. I recommend joining a writing group, taking a creative writing course, or buying Stephen King’s brilliant memoir On Writing. And I never, ever tell any aspiring writer to give up.