Monday, August 3, 2015

Open Letter to the Author

Dear DarcKnyt,

Thank you very much for sending me a draft of your novel to read/critique/edit.  I am enjoying it.  This is a big relief to me, because I am always afraid, when reviewing a friend's art, that I won't like it, and will then be stuck in the awkward position of choosing between honesty and making my friend feel good.  Who ever wants to tell their friend "Don't quit your day job."?  Thanks for not putting me on the spot!

You will find my notes to be a bit weird, maybe.  As per your request, I am using MS Word's commenting feature to mark up my version of the text directly.  I am doing this on an Apple computer.  MS Word's commenting feature is a bit buggy on the Mac.  In other words, if I attempt to do anything other than straight-up add text to the document, the program quits on me.  It doesn't throw an error, or say "I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that."  It's just suddenly not there on the screen anymore.

Things that will make MS Word vanish, in my experience so far, include:

  • trying to "delete" any of your text.  I know this is not supposed to actually delete the text, just change the font to the strike-through version, but that doesn't happen.
  • clicking on the "italics" button.
  • clicking on the "highlight" button.
  • looking at the screen the wrong way.
  • forgetting to click "save" after making some changes.
Therefore, if I think you need to cut out a word or two, I have to type "cut this" instead of striking out those words.  This is why some notes do not take the form that you might expect.

That being said, there are not many notes, because your novel is so well-written!  I am a little less than halfway through, and it's an easy read.  The plot is galloping along, but I don't find it confusing to follow the twists and turns.  The characters are well-enough described and distinguished that I can keep them separate in my head, even when it's a trio of very similar guys that we met all at the same time.  Also, the action scenes are clearly choreographed, so that I can keep track of where everyone is mid-battle.  Nicely done!

There is the odd little oops here and there.  For example, that time that the main character confirms that he has no cell reception whatsoever, and then his phone rings.  He even has a conversation with the person who called him about how he has no cell phone reception where he's standing.  So, hmm, a little tweaking needed there.

But mainly I want you to know, as you scan through and view my notes, which show up in stern, teacherly red pen, that in fact the corrected bits are a tiny percentage of my reading experience.  At least 95% of the time I've been reading I am completely absorbed in the storyline, not looking to pick at it or make changes.  Where there is nothing written in red, if I didn't want to interrupt my own suspension of disbelief, I would have been writing "Nice!" and "Woah!" or "Scary!" and also "LOL!" with full sincerity.  I just wanted to make sure that you knew that.


DarcKnyt said...

This is so good to hear! Thank you so much, Spark! So, so much.

Yes, there are oopsies along the way. :) I should probably have done a clean-up pass before asking for feedback. I apologize for the inconvenience. :)

And I hope this letter finds you feeling much better than you've been lately. We're still praying for you.

Vanessa T said...

That was so sweet, Spark!

Just one of the myriad reasons you're one of my favorite people. :)

I hope the nasty bug has gone now and you are feeling just the thing!


Sparkling Red said...

Hi DarcKnyt and Vanessa :-) Oh no, I think it's best not do to a clean-up pass... otherwise I might feel that I wasn't earning my keep, not finding anything to fix! If it's my job to find things that need tidying up, I'd feel awfully frustrated if the manuscript was already perfect when you gave it to me.

Would you believe that the stupid cough is STILL sticking around? It's a little bit better with each passing day, but taking it's sweet time bugging off. *sigh* Thanks for asking.

Granny Annie said...

What a joyous review for DarcKnyt to read. You did that very well. Glad to know you are feeling better.

Jenny Woolf said...

You're brave wrestling with the program, but what a great critique. I smiled at the phone observation. I noticed something a bit like that in a published book by a well known author today. The house was out of phone reception and yet the plot hinged on one of the characters getting a text in the middle of the night! Oops!!