Writing Non-Fiction posted October 9, 2016

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Ponderance On Reviews

by Brett Matthew West

Last night a good friend of mine, who is not a member of FanStory, and I had what I considered to be a very enlightening conversation about the topic of reviewing something a person has read. My friend pointed out some things about writing that made a lot of sense to me. So, I decided I would share them with you.

1- A writer must be willing to adapt to the current preferences of the reader. By this what he was implying was that although a niche may well suit a writer, in order for that writer to expand their horizons they must be willing to explore other avenues as well. For example, what was the popular subject for today may well be out of vogue tomorrow. Many readers constantly change their preferences.

2 - Writers need to be willing to honestly listen to what readers have to tell them. Many times writers are tunnel-visioned into "my way is the only way". What my friend was saying here, as I took his words, was that writers must be willing to listen to what reviewers tell them with an open mind. Not all negative reviews are a reflection of the writer's abilities. Some times a particular piece simply misses the mark and these comments provide a means for the writer to better improve the overall quality of that piece.

3. Writers need to lose that "what does the reader know any way?" attitude towards a reader's commentary. Because writers are not always the best judges of their own creations, an undesired review may actually be doing the writer a major favor by challenging them to be more creative. In a writer's mind everything they pen is a masterpiece that is going to set the world on fire. The truth is, as my friend bluntly put it,...oh really?

4 - There is no sense in worrying about what you have done in the past. What matters in the moment is your current piece of creativity now being scrutinized. And the truth of this statement is that not every piece a writer pens is a Pulitzer Award-winning composition, a New York Times Bestseller, or an American Academy of Arts And Letters Gold Medal piece of poetry. No matter how much the writer may believe it to be. Therefore, what they are told about that particular piece, both positively and negatively, and how it struck the fancy of the person who read it, needs to be listened to. This is one of the best ways for a writer to improve their craft.

5 - A blank piece of paper is a blank piece of paper whether you've written a million stories, poems, or whatever. And it can be intimidating to say the least. The thrill of creation comes in how you transform that blank piece of paper into words. And, as my friend advised me last night, "That edge of the knife never dulls".

6 - Writers are "fickle, sensitive, creatures." That is how my friend described us writers. And he is correct. No writer enjoys being told something they created does not meet the Gold Standard. We all want everything we write to be well accepted by those who read it. But, like my friend told me, "If you are going to be a writer you better develop a thick skin". You may well need it. If you can not handle the very real prospect that something you wrote is not going to be well received then you probably should not put it out there for all the world to review. Because, more times than not, disappointment may be in the air.

7 - ALWAYS WRITE FOR YOUR OWN ENJOYMENT! I can not stress this fact of a writer's life enough. It took a two-by-four up aside the head to beat these words into my mule-thick skull one fine day, (which is another story left better untold, or at least, until another time) but this is the singlemost valuable piece of advice I have ever been given in my entire writing career. And, I always pass them on to other writers. Because if you do not enjoy what you are writing then what is the point in writing that piece?

*****SPECIAL ADDITION TO MY ORIGINAL ARTICLE: (Included with Dean Kuch's approval.)*****

Dean responded to my article with a couple of, what I felt were very astute observations. I am now taking the liberty of including them in a revision of my original article. Thanks a lot, Dean. Any questions why he is recognized as one of the very best writers on FanStory, and in the Horror genre he is ranked Number One? He is always willing to help others!

Dean wrote, and I quote him now, "...the reason for it [a piece of writing not presenting its best quality] should never, and I repeat -- NEVER!!! -- be due to a lack of honest effort on the part of the individual doing the writing."

He further stated, "If someone is not willing to listen to honest critique given with the best intentions, then they may as well put away the pen and paper, shut down their laptop, and simply walk away without even looking back."

***I completely concur with both of Dean's observations.


So you want to write do you? Well, the gig is up. Can you handle it?

chalkboard work, by VMarguarite, selected to compliment my article.

So thanks, VMarguarite, for the use of your picture. It goes so nicely with my article.
Pays one point and 2 member cents.

Artwork by VMarguarite at FanArtReview.com

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