Mystery Musings

Okay, I’m a writer.  Which means that when I read a book, I can’t help editing in my head as I go.  That doesn’t affect how much I enjoy a story.  I separate my editing brain from my reading pleasure, probably to the point that I don’t comment on things that bother me because I know how hard it is to write a book.  I also know how subjective my tastes are.  Things that other readers love don’t always hit me the same.  So I err on the side of focusing on the positive.  But then, that’s what I do in general anyway.  It’s who I am.

I do often think about what would happen if the author I’m reading came to Scribes, my writing group, and read his manuscript there.  Our group is eclectic.  It has a Regency romance and fantasy writer, a YA fantasy/horror writer, a newspaper columnist, an ex-addict writing a memoir to unglamorize drugs, a retired cop/philosophy teacher who’s writing about his experiences, two thriller writers, two literary members who write plays and poetry, a children’s writer, and a humor writer, among others.  And they’re the toughest critics I have.  I get nervous every time it’s my turn to read, but I’m so lucky, because each of them focuses on something different.

The last time I read, I took the first chapter of a new mystery series I want to try.  Not every member was there.  We only have a few rules and attendance isn’t one of them.  I really wanted feedback, and I got it.  I can go around our table–in my mind–and remember what each person commented on, because I know what they look for, and they don’t miss much.

The YA fantasy writer:  Where are the smells?  The description?  I want to be able to place myself in the setting, to see it.  I want more internal dialogue to know how she feels about what’s happened.

The poet:  You used too many general word choices instead of specific words.  I liked the active verbs and this phrase…  I liked the tone and voice, too.

The playwright:  You introduced too many characters too soon.  I had trouble keeping them straight.  Maybe hold off to introduce a few of them later, but good job on the dialogue.  It felt real.

The Regency writer:  I got the romantic interest right away even though you kept it subtle, and I liked the interaction between the characters.  You made the story’s big question clear.  I know where the story’s going.  This isn’t exactly a cozy, though?  Won’t you have to appeal to a different market?

The ex-cop:  You made the youngest brother a drug user.  I know that’s going to be a plot complication later.  The first chapter didn’t have the big hook, but I can see it coming.

The memoir writer:  I like how all of the characters are close and care about each other.  I can tell what happens to one of them will affect all of them.

The thriller writer:  I didn’t get bored.  It held my interest, but I like a big hook at the very beginning, something that grabs me.  I can see that this might appeal to some readers, though.  I hope pretty soon, you pick up the pace, give us something juicy.  Nothing really happened in this chapter.  It’s all set-up and hints.

The newspaper columnist:  It flowed well.  Nothing too abrupt.  The transitions made the writing smooth, but I got confused with all the characters.  Make them more distinct.

I’ll stop there.  You get the idea.  But I often hear their voices when I read someone else’s book.  Or I’m writing my own:)

 

 

 

 

 

 

4 thoughts on “Mystery Musings

  1. We always comment that we’re just giving feedback, but the author has to decide what works and what doesn’t. I still like the feedback. It makes me think about things I might overlook. We’re a really positive group. I was in one group for a short bit that took pleasure in tearing whatever you read apart. Said if you couldn’t take honest criticism, you’d never make it. Phooey to that!

    Liked by 1 person

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