I had an on-line writer friend ask me to read her manuscript. I am not an editor by any stretch of the imagination, but we both write in the same genre and it was within my comfort zone to oblige her. Okay, so now the problem... I read her proposed book.
Her writing is outstanding when it comes to the detailed descriptions of some things, but her character development is not there at all, I mean not at all. The plot is lacking also. (Lacking is an understatement as the book could have easily been thrown into a wall several times and I'm not all that hard to please!)
Now what do I do? I don't want to sound high-minded but I sure don't want to tell her that her book was a wonderful read. I only offered to read it because of how well written some of her sample work was. (Boy did I learn my lesson!)
I sure don't envy you your job. I thought that reading bad poetry was bad, but I'm thinking that a bad book is a whole lot worse, especially when you have committed to read the whole thing!
She doesn't know that I have finished reading her book, and I hate to deal with this, but I'm left with no choice! Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated and all advice will be followed to the letter!
A fledging Snarkling.
You can send her my usual letter when I read something like this: "Thanks for letting me read your novel. It sucked. Get a job".
Actually, before I was an agent I worked in the industry in a different capacity. Lots of people knew I "did something with books" even if they weren't quite sure what it was.
One Saturday night I was, well, shall we say, enamored of a certain gentleman. He returned the enamorization and we were canoodling on the beaches of love. The locale of canoodling changes to his thatched roof hut and by the light of tiki torch he says (one hand on my thigh) "here, you like books you should read this".
Well, I thought he was going to give me a book of love poems, or maybe some Anais Nin, or at worst Harold Robbins.
oh woe, no.
It is, I swear to dog, printed pages, printed on both sides no less, in a "illuminated manuscript" font like Bodini, about 8pts, and full of every adjective known to man, and few imported from Rabbitania.
I was speechless, and not just cause his tongue had been down my throat.
So, I feel your pain. And here's what to do.
You say "I was glad to read your novel. I never offer comments but I can answer questions about it." General questions like "did you like it" can be answered truthfully with "not as much as I hoped I would after reading -and this is where you insert the name of the work you did like." You'll know she has no idea about character development if she doesn't ask anything about it.
Criticism is a tough game, and not for the faint of heart. I have a lot of respect for the people who sent their stuff to the Crapometer for 'fondling'.
If your online friend takes exception to your comments, well, she needs to learn how to accept constructive criticism, and you've learned how to be Miss Snark!