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Writer reviews

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In reply to an earlier post on 5 Dec 2012 08:57:03 GMT
Ethereal, I have answer for you, but it's not for public consumption.

In reply to an earlier post on 5 Dec 2012 08:52:21 GMT
Ethereal says:
"As a thriller writer I am constantly attempting to outwit and misdirect thriller readers."

But of course I'd expect that in a thriller.
It's a different kind of outwit I was referring to, not as part of the story but the way it's been written. Why it's been written the way it has. I doubt readers are interested in a writer's experiments, only that they work. For yours to work you say it should be invisible yet want to draw attention to it afterwards. This need to explain ...

Posted on 5 Dec 2012 08:42:40 GMT
Ethereal, you know how I love you and everything but . . . I'm not feeling that one, sorry. As a thriller writer I am constantly attempting to outwit and misdirect thriller readers.

Sou'Wester, I'm kind of gonna disagree with you, too. A story is a story, within the story there are invariably other stories some the writer is aware of, others just leapt from the subconscious and buried themselves in the text. Here, again, I'll highlight the vast difference between novel writing, and journalism. A novel, for me, is not judged on how successfully the story (singular) has been put across. Within the story are nuances and subtleties some conscious, some inserted subconsciously. Whether these subtleties are picked up by reader governs your story as you are writing for readers with different levels of comprehension. Often I find myself writing entire chapters on one subject when really they relate to another.

I'm convinced the answer to the question "Did Shane die?" is written within the work somewhere. Unfortunately, only the author knows where.

I've written a simple comedy. Some people find it quite funny. Some find it thought provoking for a number of reasons that were unintentional, who knew? So, yes, I successfully conveyed the theme of society's obsession with celebrities - even though I had no intention of writing it.

In reply to an earlier post on 5 Dec 2012 08:02:23 GMT
Last edited by the author on 5 Dec 2012 08:43:09 GMT
Ethereal says:
I think knowing what you set out to do is interesting for other writers, not readers (unless it becomes a classic and studied!).
It's the kind of thing you would explain on your blog, not review.
Or maybe include a page at the end of the story.
If the reader doesn't get it then it's either the writer's fault in not making it clearer or there's room for them to put their own interpretation on it, which is their entitlement and doesn't have to tally with yours.
To say if readers did get what you were doing you'd have failed comes across a bit like trying to outwit them and patronising. Some just want a good read, not duel with the writer or get inside his head.
Perhaps you were so focussed on the writerly aspect of what you hoped to achieve you lost sight of what's important to readers - the story - so that's another lesson which can be learned!

ETA: Your notion of review seems to be for the benefit of writers but my understanding of the term is so readers can decide if a story is for them; perhaps then the problem isn't so much your work as the need to explain everything (taking into account all the threads you've begun here and on MOA). Because if it were all about promotion (if by the back door) I don't think you've done a great job!

In reply to an earlier post on 5 Dec 2012 08:00:06 GMT
Sou'Wester says:
Michael: Surely the issue here is not what you were trying to achieve, but how well you've told your story. You already know precisely what your story is about, as it's in your head as well as on the page. Readers only have access to the latter; therefore it will be readers who can judge how successful you've been in putting your story across.

Posted on 5 Dec 2012 04:38:58 GMT
Back on point . . .

I wrote a short story, once. The plot was, albeit ambiguously, was revealed by the title. In the story man and a woman meet on a train and a sexual encounter takes place. I had several conflicting reviews, although overwhelmingly positive, several reviewers summarised the story with their own interpretations. One reviewer even called me sexist, echoing the views several others "He gets to shirk his responsibilities and continue with his career and she gets stuck at home with a baby."

These reviews were intriguing. But the story was nothing to do with the personal plight of these individual writers. Having said that, if I'd written a synopsis of the work I risk losing the empathy of a number of readers. However, if, knowing what I know, I'd written a review, people would know what I saw when I was writing it.

You may call me arrogant but I believe there may be other aspiring writers who may benefit from knowing how the piece came to be.

I was having problems with overuse of the verb 'look'. As an exercise, I imagined a French (don't ask me why I chose French) silent film. I put two strangers on a train and endeavoured to get them into the toilets for the purpose of sex, without them actually speaking to each other. Of course 'the act' required a motive. (Thanks to the Discovery Channel). In addition to writing the piece without dialogue I also elected to omit description of inanimate objects. (On a train journey it is far too easy for a writer to look out of the window at the cows!). This taught me a lot about visualisation, focus, and camera work.

I ended up with 3000 words. I can review it because I know what I was trying to achieve. In contrast, if a reviewer notices what I was trying to achieve - I've probably failed. e.g. to maintain focus on the characters to the extent that nobody notices anything else.

Posted on 3 Dec 2012 18:53:32 GMT
Tarin Day says:
That's exactly the point Conrad was trying to get through to him, Ryan, but he doesn't listen to anyone else.

Posted on 3 Dec 2012 18:36:14 GMT
Last edited by the author on 3 Dec 2012 18:38:29 GMT
The more Michael acts like a spoilt brat, the less likely anyone is to buy anything by him.

Seen this way, I sincerely hope he continues blowing his own trumpet for some time to come, if he doesn't get deleted first.

Posted on 3 Dec 2012 17:50:50 GMT
Tarin Day says:
Ok, Michael, I've listened to you insult people and victimise people on different threads. If someone doesn't agree with you, you behave like a spoiled child. You take pleasure in antagonising people, your opinion is worthless to me, I have nothing more to say to you, I refuse to argue with a fool.

In reply to an earlier post on 3 Dec 2012 17:08:36 GMT
Misty, you sound like you're about six. Your statement is usually preceded by "My momma taught me . . . " Please say something that makes sense or is at least, in part, original.

Posted on 3 Dec 2012 16:54:10 GMT
Tarin Day says:
I pride myself on being a good judge of character and if I can't say anything nice about someone then I won't say anything at all. I have nothing to say about you, at all.

In reply to an earlier post on 3 Dec 2012 15:42:18 GMT
Misty, I can see how people get conned out of their life savings! If a person can convince you of their integrity in three forum posts, then just - wow!

Posted on 3 Dec 2012 13:39:53 GMT
Tarin Day says:
You have integrity Conrad, that shines through in everything you say. And you don't have to come out with the f word to get your point across, it's called class, something Gordon Ramsey will never have. And lastly, you don't always have to have the last word to be right.

Posted on 3 Dec 2012 13:01:22 GMT
Thanks for the advice, Conrad, but we ain't never going to agree. I've been around the odd forum, people have started fights that they cannot finish. In this day and age if you turn the other cheek too often you run the risk of getting buttfukked. If I'd ever wanted to progress by being nice. I would have done so long ago.

In the words of NWA.

"Some say no to drugs, and take a stand. After the show they go running to the dope man."

In summary: I can't see the point of being sweetness and light in public whilst harbouring contrary thoughts. People should express themselves, it's their God-given right.

Posted on 3 Dec 2012 12:45:16 GMT
Conrad Jones says:
As I said earlier, I write my synopsis and generally battle with the publisher when they try and change it unless it reads better of course! The back cover is the blurb and has to be catchy, granted but the synopsis which is published on your Amazon page can be up to 500 words and again, that is my chance to 'review' the subject matter as 'I' see it. Get it right and you can attract new readers. Get it wrong and they won't come back but I would rather lose a reader because they don't fancy the book from the description in the synopsis than lose one because I had reviewed my own book. I feel it is a matter of principle and professionalism rather than sticking up two fingers to the world. Trust me, when people meet me, they do not believe that I'm an author. I am not the arty type and from a physical point of view, I certainly do not fit the stereotype. I am not preaching or superior in anyway shape or form but I have been published on Amazon since 2008 and have seen authors make some huge blunders in these forums. I have had some painfully cutting reviews and of course your gut reaction is to respond but we cannot respond in an aggressive or abusive manner because we are professionals. If you worked for a global brand and were obnoxious with a complaining customer, then you would not be employed for long. As for Gordon Ramsey, I based one of my detectives 'Alec Ramsay' on his character. I liked the character so much, he is in a trilogy. However, Gordon nearly went bankrupt because he offended so many decision makers in the industry that he was out of work for nearly two years. He is an entertaining character but I would not use him as a role model for interacting with people of a different opinion !! I appreciate your stance and your opinion but when you are in the public domain, sometimes you have to bite your lip and smile!!

In reply to an earlier post on 3 Dec 2012 12:19:38 GMT
carol arnall says:
I agree with every word you have written, Conrad. Like Ethereal, if I read thrillers I would buy one of your books!

In reply to an earlier post on 3 Dec 2012 12:09:00 GMT
Last edited by the author on 3 Dec 2012 12:14:38 GMT
I'm sorry Conrad, I don't believe you are correct. In my experience a synopsis is an abridged version of the story containing featured characters, plot points and any twists. It will reveal the entire story without cliff hangers. They vary between one and five pages. You'd never get a full synopsis on the back of a book.

And my brand is my brand and marketed my way - honest. Gordon Ramsay seems to be doing okay. It all needs to fit together.

In reply to an earlier post on 3 Dec 2012 11:07:22 GMT
J. Rollason says:
I absolutely agree. Apart from one early faux pas on Goodreads I have never 'reviewed' my own book. I have just one review on Amazon and I cherish it greatly. I seek honest feedback, that's the only way to improve.

Posted on 3 Dec 2012 11:05:34 GMT
Conrad Jones says:
I'm sorry but I disagree with you totally. The Synopsis on my books is my chance to invite the reader into the subject matter in a paragraph. I tell them what the story is about and I also tell them if it is gritty, violent or a mystery full of suspense. That is my opportunity to 'review' the title in question. As for returning insults to people who are deemed as being rude, then if you choose to do that in a public forum, do it at your peril. You have a 'brand' to protect, which is yourself and your work. I have seen some authors respond to poor reviews in the most shocking manner and generally it leads into a war of words as many readers jump to the defense of the reviewer and their right to have an opinion. Jousting in the public domain will leave some readers with a bad taste in their mouth about your brand. I am not taking sides here and I don't mean to preach but maintaining the integrity of your brand should be top of mind when debating

In reply to an earlier post on 3 Dec 2012 10:38:55 GMT
May I also add . . . #1 The book in question now exists. It has gone on sale since the discussion started. And whether or not a writer can review their own work can be judged on page 2 of this thread. I can't see the part where the writer is selling you anything. To me, it seems fairly objective - but it would wouldn't it!

btw, It was typed out in a couple of minutes.

Posted on 3 Dec 2012 10:31:07 GMT
Ethereal says:
There's also the website/blog where authors can "review" their work - not in a blowing your own trumpet way which would put me off, but in discussions.

Posted on 3 Dec 2012 10:15:53 GMT
Tarin Day says:
Yes, I agree too, it's so nice to listen to an opinion and not worry that you're going to get a backlash of abuse just because you don't agree with the previous poster. Reviews are worth nothing if they are biased in any way, and what can be more biased than if you have written the book yourself.

In reply to an earlier post on 3 Dec 2012 10:10:45 GMT
Conrad, I felt that your post started well but then took a totally unwarranted tangent.

Firstly, the nature of the blurb has changed in recent years. It has become more of a sales pitch. A synopsis is rarely available to the reader. I have reviewed a lot of unpublished work. One of the popular issue I raise with 'educated' writers is that they write 'academic' pitches.
"Written in first person present, xxxxxxx, attempts to tell Emily's story from a dual POV with extensive use of flashbacks."
- The average reader has no interest in the above. They want to know how Emily came to be in peril and who or what is going to come to her rescue. Other writers, may be interested in how it was put together. It's difficult to write for both markets.

I've no idea where the subject of sockpuppets came into the argument - Paranoia . . . probably.

As for being 'obnoxious' and 'swapping insults? If you are referring to me? Yeah, I can do that - I'm good at it. I'm confident that I start debates in good faith. However, there are those who think they're smart, funny, clever, etc . . . who think its clever to insult people - they know who they are.

I don't understand why they get upset when their generosity is returned to them.

In reply to an earlier post on 3 Dec 2012 10:00:20 GMT
Ethereal says:
Your post almost makes me wish I were a reader of thrillers because I'd buy one of your books!

I hadn't thought of the blurb and synopsis being the author's chance to "review" their own work but it makes perfect sense.

Posted on 3 Dec 2012 09:35:04 GMT
Last edited by the author on 3 Dec 2012 09:38:21 GMT
Conrad Jones says:
I am reading this debate with an objective view but as the author of nearly 20 books, fiction and non fiction, I have to say that I'm amazed at the topic. As a writer, we have the opportunity to 'review' the content for potential readers when we write the blurb on the back for the publisher and of course the synopsis is written by the author. That is our opportunity to tell the readers what 'we' think the book has to offer. Once it is on sale in the public domain, then we should not review our own books. There has been much debate on this subject and some bestselling authors were removed from Amazon for while because of their sock-puppet activities. Of course we all want to tell the world about our books but sneaking about on Amazon is just a waste of valuable time. If you want interact with readers, then go to Goodreads or Kindleboards where we are invited to talk to readers. Self promotion is the only promotion that most authors have but you are in danger of turning readers away if they suspect that your reviews are shady. I also feel that becoming involved in swapping insults with readers in forums such as this projects a very poor impression of us as authors. At the end of the day, we are just people who tell stories and that doesn't give us the right to be rude and obnoxious to others with a different view. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. We should behave with dignity when we are interacting with other authors and readers alike.
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Discussion in:  fiction discussion forum
Participants:  22
Total posts:  193
Initial post:  12 Nov 2012
Latest post:  13 Dec 2012

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