The Brutal Critic


Spouses can be so harsh. Kim gave back the 396-page first draft manuscript of Ulrik today and didn’t hold back telling me how disappointed she was. As if the red ink she added to the pages wasn’t enough! Shara’s weak. Character development is inconsistent. The flashbacks are boring. Ulrik isn’t as smart as he was in Shara. Not enough sex. And the ending … all that build up for a “let down” ending. Sheesh.

But see, I knew she’d be tough on me. And, while we don’t always agree on what a good story is (she hates the movies It’s a Wonderful Life and Forest Gump, for instance, but loves that wretched Seven Brides for Seven Brothers), I do respect her opinion and, when she explained why she felt the way she did, I had to admit I see her point in most cases.

Back in 1995, Carolyn Wheat’s criticism of the ending to Shara made me rewrite that and I ended up with a much better book. I’m sure Ulrik will be better for Kim’s brutalizing the first draft, too.

Why do I let people read my first drafts? I know a lot of authors won’t do that. I’m lazy, and easily distracted. If I don’t have someone waiting for the next chapter, I’ll find something else to do instead of write.

Yesterday I read the manuscript of Seven Days in Benevolence again, looking to clean it up, but specifically looking for the objectionable line Nick Cook pointed out. I couldn’t find it. Apparently, somewhere between the Double Dragon Press publication of the e-book and my submitting it to Scrybe Press for print publication, I must have found and deleted that line. I did find a few other things to fix, such as two instances where “lunched” was used in place of “lunged.” It was fun to read the book again. So much of it is “true.” The words used by the daughters are things my own girls were saying at that time. The house is the house we were living in. And it just reminds me of those last couple of months working at Conoco, when all my work was taken away and given to (overpriced jackass) consultants hired by Phillips Petroleum and I had nothing to do, so I wrote a book at work.

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8 thoughts on “The Brutal Critic

  1. Seven Brides for Seven Brothers may just be the very bane of my existence. My wife also also loves that movie and hates Forest Gump. Maybe they’re related.
    Also, I think you’re a lucky man, Mr. Wedel! Harsh criticism, in my opinion, is better than someone just saying, “It’s good,” and leaving it at that. It’s hard to work with “It’s good.”

    • Yup
      How can anyone like a movie where a guy dances with an axe while singing “I’m a lonely polecat?” It’s well beyond me.
      And yes, you’re absolutely right on the criticism. She’s given me a lot to work with and I’m looking forward to diving back in starting the editing process for real.

  2. Spouses are harsh
    Damn right, I take that job seriously and I’m good at it.;)
    And I do not LOVE Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. It’s one of only two musicals I do like. By the way Steve doesn’t like: Blues Brothers or Animal House. Now that’s strange.
    Your Critical (but supportive) Wife,
    Kim

    • Re: Spouses are harsh
      HOW can you NOT like the BLUES BROTHERS!!!
      DUDE! That is like, the COOLEST movie EVAR!!!
      Mind you I loved Forest Gump and will *never* see Seven Brides…
      …but Blues Brothers???
      Now I’m worried. LOL!
      A good editor makes for a better author – good on ya, Kim!
      Marcy (and the Truth-Tuna)

      • Re: Spouses are harsh
        Okay, see, I like most of “The Blues Brothers.” Except the stupid car chase at the end. When it’s on AMC — and it often is — I’ll watch it for Aretha Franklin’s song, then maybe come back for “Jailhouse Rock” there at the end.
        And yes, harsh editing is good for me.
        How’d you say PURGE is coming along? Ha!

  3. WHAT!!
    You don’t like Animal House! That’s just wrong. Listen to the critic. She’s the most honest person I know and that’s a hard quality to find in people. Best of luck. Can’t believe you don’t like Animal House!
    mo’

    • Re: WHAT!!
      Did “Animal House” even have a plot? All I remember is “Toga! Toga!” and Belushi spewing mashed potatoes, and another lame ending (even worse than “The Blues Brothers” ending). Something about marbles in the street.
      And yeah, yeah, she’s honest. Her comments will make the book better.
      This from someone who’s paid to work in a cage all day. 😉

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