Thursday, June 18, 2015

Why I Love Bad Reviews

The challenge all authors face is sometimes our writing is not perceived or interpreted by the reader as intended and we end up receiving a negative review. If that is the case, there are two possible realities:
  1. The reader has allowed his perception of the work to be misinterpreted by his or her own mental and emotional grid, or
  2. The author has failed to write a clear and concise story. 
No writer has control over the first situation, but does have total control over the second.

The only way I will ever know if I have committed an unpardonable breach in the writer-reader relationship is if I get a bad review.

Now, I have very little ego. I am not God's gift to the literary world. None of my work is going to change your life. I have no great truths to share. That has never been the intent. If you read one of my stories or novellas, my only purpose it to entertain you. All that is desired is that you spend a brief time of respite in a world of my own creation and come away not regretting the time you put into reading the story. The hope is that every reader sees my work as something akin to a mental vacation, a brief respite from everyday life.

My first novella, Coventry House, served as my magnum opus for years. Over the years the novella has received some rave reviews, but some years ago it received a negative review that, believe it or not, I truly treasure because I got to see the work through another set of eyes.

The review is located here and unfortunately, I do not know the name of the reviewer. I respectfully disagree with some of his points, but it is very clear that he read the novella from cover to cover and the review is exhaustive.

Yes, the review is filled with snark and sarcasm, yet there are many points the reviewer makes that I cannot disagree with. It was, after all, my first major work and comes with a number of errors that first-time novel writers are prone to commit.

Most helpful is a list that compiled that the reviewer calls his Cheesy Story Checklist and, quite frankly, it's a goldmine for all writers. I confess some of the trope descriptions I just don't get, but the vast majority make some very valid points.

Now no writer enjoys having his baby called ugly, but all criticisms of one's work should be read and contemplated. Some can be ignored completely and you will instinctively know which ones.

Others ... well, others you will know instinctively if they contain a kernel of truth and for those you swallow your ego and read and heed. In the end, it's for everybody's benefit for both the writer and the reader.

And the negative review of Coventry House has been a priceless education.

So, for my readers who read my blog, if you read one of my stories or novellas that does not entertain you, let me know on or on Smashwords. It will be read and considered.

For my fellow writers who read my blog, writing is an art honed over time. We can only improve, but only if we are mature enough to learn that sometimes we produce some rather ugly babies.

The next ones we birth can only be better.

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