I'm not your bitch, don't hang your shit on me.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Don't shoot the editor

Being someone who writes a lot for a living, I enjoy it when people ask me to look over their manuscripts in order to get an objective perspective on their work. Sometimes I’m pleasantly surprised by the quality, sometimes not so much.

Here in comes the problem: What do you do when someone asks you if it’s good? Should you tell them what’s wrong and offer constructive criticism, or just shut up and tell them it’s good (while lying through your teeth).

One time, someone gave me something to review and it wasn’t very good. In fact, it was pretty awful. Not only was there no story, but the grammar was poor. The only way it could ever be published was for reasons beside the written word (i.e. money, sex, blackmail, etc.). I handed it back and said nothing.

What’s worse is having to tell this to a friend. I find it akin to when someone asks you if they look fat in the jeans they’re wearing. The obvious answer is yes, but you don’t want to say that because it will hurt their feelings. So, you bite your tongue and tell them they’re not fat and look fantastic.

So, if you ever consider in having a professional opinion on any of your written works, please be advised that I will be honest in my assessment, while trying not to hurt your feelings. Try being the operative word.


Anonymous The Kelly Project said...

I think if someone asks if they look fat in their jeans, they're really asking you to stroke their ego.

Be honest. They should the answer anyway. Except if it's Helen Keller.

June 17, 2008 10:09 am  
Blogger Chris said...

So whenever I tell Larry that someone thinks I'm funny or talented, and he says, "They're just being nice," I guess I shouldn't scoff and tell him to fuck off.


June 17, 2008 10:50 am  
Blogger james said...

if they are paying you for your professional critique, there's no reason to be less than honest with them.

which brings up a pet peeve of mine -- when people want the opinion of writers/editors on things they've written, but it doesn't occur to them that they should ay least offer some cash or a meal, etc. As if they'd ask a friend who is a mechanic to get under their car just to take a look and give their opinion.

June 17, 2008 1:01 pm  
Anonymous naturline said...

That beautiful photos… enchant to me… I must spend more times this way.

June 17, 2008 1:29 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Being someone who writes a lot for a living, I'm surprised you would use the dreaded oxymoron 'pretty awful' in a sentence.

June 17, 2008 5:46 pm  
Blogger Random Thinker said...

is that how you deal with prospective spouses, first dates... being brutally honest?

perhaps you need to change your tactics!

or just wait for the perfect one for you.

June 17, 2008 11:21 pm  

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