Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Playing Nice

A while back, I joined a group of fun women who are passionate about romance. They meet once a month to review and discuss romance novels. I love the discussions and I pick up recommendations for great books—too many for my limited reading time at the moment! But when it comes to giving my critical opinion about a romance, even in that relaxed forum, I hesitate.

I feel a certain courtesy toward fellow authors, who put their blood, sweat and tears into writing the book of their heart. So I think twice about criticizing a novel in a public forum, though I might analyze what worked for me and what didn’t in the privacy of my own study.

I wish others would extend the same courtesy. Before the internet, you could express an opinion and it need go no further than your own circle of friends. Now, ill-considered rants are broadcast to thousands in the blink of an eye.

That’s not to say I want to stop people reviewing books or talking about them. But might I just send out a plea to aspiring and published authors to stop and think before you make a disparaging comment about someone else’s pride and joy? Are you being completely honest about your motives, or has the green-eyed monster been whispering in your ear? Have you even read the book in question? Will you like it if something similar happens to you?

So...tell me something good. Tell me something a writer has done for you or you’ve done for another writer, to help a career or brighten a day.


Anna Campbell said...

Christine, brilliant thoughts as always. I must say in recent years, I've thought twice before I've opened my mouth on an ill-considered comment about a book, although obviously I still have opinions and I still spruik about books I love (Princess Blog, c'est moi, is currently blogging about her favorite romances on RRAH and this is a really positive experience. Because in talking about books that have changed my life, it's like I'm revisiting them and spreading the joy which is even better). Occasionally, I've found myself shooting my mouth off when I shouldn't. But professional courtesy is certainly something I'm very aware of.

Joan said...

Yes, I've come to realize that you have to be very careful about remarks and where you've said them. It does get around as evidenced by some jaw dropping things I heard last year at national about a promient author.

As to what someone has done for me I've had a multi pubbed author encouraging me every year from the literacy signing. It started when I stopped by to praise her book and she'd ask about my writing. The look of determination in her eye as she assured me "you will be published" both astounded me and then fortified me. And that was BEFORE she'd ever read any of my works.

That has meant a lot to me.

Beth said...

Great post, Christine. I try to be careful with my comments as well. I've come to realize that just because I'm not crazy about a story, doesn't mean that story isn't good -- or even wonderful. Just because it doesn't suit my personal tastes, I see no reason to trash either the story or the author.

As for something positive, I'm lucky to be part of two very special groups of talented women (and one man :-)) who are always encouraging and generous with their time and support which always brightens my day :-)

Christine Wells said...

Anna, I'll look forward to the RRAH blog. I love hearing about great books! Joan, that's a wonderful story, that a published author has believed in you so unreservedly. It makes a big difference. Beth, I don't know where I'd be without my critique partners! Thanks for commenting!

Trish Milburn said...

I totally agree, Christine. I'm of the "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all" school of thought. While there is a place for constructive criticism, I don't understand some of the acidic reviews I occasionally see online.

I'm luck to have an incredible network of writer friends, both published and unpublished, who are generous in so many ways. I count myself as very lucky.