Conventional wisdom says that writers should never ask family members for feedback. Loved ones will inevitably fawn all over you and tell you how good your writing is (even when it isn’t) and that you don’t need to change a thing (even though you do). To the purveyors of CW, I simply say: You obviously haven’t met my baby sister.
Meet my first editor:
Okay, that was unfair. But I could have picked the one with her shampooed hair sticking up in a spike. Besides, I wanted to use the image to imply…accurately…that she’s been critiquing me since she was about this age. But since the 80s are long gone, let’s try this one instead:(Please ignore my daughter’s tremendously NOT attractive facemaking skills.)
My sister is a lawyer. But I told her the other day that she missed her calling. Because she has yet to give me a critique that was off the mark. Brutal she can be, but her reactions are always spot on. “Show, don’t tell.” “One-dimensional character.” “Implausible.” She doesn’t use writing lingo, but she instinctively understands the concepts. She also instinctively understands the market, even though she has no reason or expertise to qualify her to do so. She’s simply the quintessential modern reader. When she talks about a book, it sounds like a repeat of every agent blog I’ve ever read. Whatever she thinks about a book, you can bet it’s a darned good indicator of what everybody else is going to think, too.
And the most amazing part is that she hasn’t obsessed or pored over websites, magazines or books to learn it. She just gets it.
She’s been offering me feedback since we were both living at home, and I was saving my novels on multiple floppy disks.
No, not those. I mean the one on the left in this picture. The 8-inch one.
You know, the floppies that were actually floppy?
The other day, I asked her to nit-pick my novel opening. The novel that’s making me pull my hair out, because it refuses to fly the coop. She sent me a blistering one-page (single-spaced) analysis of the first five pages of the manuscript, and finished up her missive with, “Well, those are my immediate thoughts.” I had to laugh, thinking, Holy cow, if those are your immediate thoughts, I don’t know if I’m going to ask for an in-depth critique!
Well, this quick and easy blog entry has turned into a two-hour ordeal of picture-hunting, so I won’t belabor the point. I simply wanted to publicly acknowledge my sister for her time and help over the years. Keep up the blistering, sis. Where would I be without you?