Critical analysis and author receptivity

Before I began on this fiction lark, some two years ago with a week’s Writer’s Retreat as part of the Arvon Trust, I was not particularly receptive to critical assessment.

But the kind interventions of two experienced authors there, Rajeev Balasubramanyam and Diana Evans, showed me quite clearly how listening and learning, and putting into practice, meant developing as a writer. Thereafter, the considered critiques of a variety of different writing tasks in our Writers Group, and comments by beta readers, have elicited rapid alterations in the text of my manuscripts.

A case in point is a recent, rather stinkeroo sort of review which highlighted a couple of intriguing points that I’d missed. I looked over the manuscript, fixed the offending passages, and immediately re-submitted the book contents to Amazon. Turn-around from receipt of comments to altered text: about 24 hours. I’d like to think that’s interactivity; some points I might disagree with, and on others I might think the reader is inherently lazy, but I’m not too proud to admit mistakes, I hope. At least I’ve responded, but the review is still extant. Never mind.

After all, making mistakes is how we learn. I must be learning an awful lot these days, then!

So I’m looking forward to making even more of them as I embark on Sequel, for which, if I’m good and conscientious, I shall have a first draft ready for professional consultation by sometime in January ’22. My first target is probably Cornerstones Literary Consultancy, which offers both mentorship and general editing for a fee. It seems like the most reasonable way to move forward, so that I don’t presume on my beta readers too much.

Otherwise, I await more reviews and comments with renewed interest.

By Larry Winger

Retired scientist, devoted diarist (, community-minded aspirant novelist, I've lived on a smallholding in the East Allen Valley for the past 30 years, delighting in watching our family grow up, in experiencing the development of our grandsons, and in taking care of our small flock of chickens and garden.

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