Thursday, 23 April 2009

Who reviews your writing?

Writing projects: the review stage

At a recent networking meeting, a colleague was talking to me about his uncle who’d written on his very varied life.

When he’d written it out, he printed it and passed it around to his family to read. My colleague was saying that he thought it might have benefited from having a professional writer take a look at it. Because although he said his uncle was fascinating when you talked to him, when it had been transferred onto the printed page it seemed to have died on him.

That’s a shame. And it often happens because it’s very hard to sort out your own material and shape it in a way that makes sense for others. What appeals to us might not be right for other people.

And if you don’t know your way around the writing profession it’s difficult to know who to go to – especially if you’re telling a family story. I think that expecting your family to give you a good assessment of your material is fraught with danger.

That’s because they don’t come to it fresh. And there are so many underlying aspects of our relationships within the family circle that can really screw up objectivity. If you like the writer, you don’t want to hurt their feelings, you want to support them but…. What do you say?

If you don’t like them or you’re of a mind to pay off old scores then you can put the boot in.

Whether you’re supportive or not, you’re not in the best place to judge. The writer ends up with a too soft or a too harsh review that has nothing do to with the quality of the writing or the story.

Tough call but I’d go for an objective outsider every time. To have a professional writer critique your writing will cost you financially and maybe chip away at your pride. But at least you’ll know that their judgement is not based on someone whose toy you broke 30 years ago or who loves you so much they daren’t tell you your writing can be improved.

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