The Very Scary Bit

Yesterday, after thoughtful help from hubby with the copying etc., I sent out my manuscript to my three remaining readers, Emily and Katie having had a sneak preview.

I have broken some rules.

Rule No. 1: A reader should not be a close member of the family

The wisdom behind this is that they won’t want to upset the writer, so will pin a happy smile on their face and pretend it was wonderful. Well, let me introduce my daughter to you all. Emily – the Queen of the Straight Talkers and very much her undiplomatic father’s daughter. She is also spending lots of time pretending to be a cow at the moment (no, not a ‘cow’ a cow as in a milk), so needs something to do while my baby granddaughter thinks she actually is one.

Rule No. 2: A reader should actually like reading

Emily’s never been much of a reader. When she was six/seven she was such a little perfectionist (again like her father) she wouldn’t try anything unless she knew she could do it. Reading out loud was her worst nightmare. Enter scary teacher who forced her to do it in front of whole class even though she cried real tears. Result: one little girl who started out quite liking to read to herself quietly, but ended up at the age of seven being so scared of not being able to read out loud it put her right off.

Rule No. 3: A reader should not be a teacher (broke that one twice)

Enter very nice teacher who understood perfectly what poor little seven/eight-year old Emily was going through and made her laugh with Roald Dahl and Michael Rosen. (I don’t think I ever thanked you for that, N, did I?) N is also one of my readers and I’m really grateful to her. She’s a colleague of Emily’s, although they teach in different schools, and that’s how I’ve ended up with two teachers.

Rule No. 4: A reader of women’s fiction should be a woman

But he’s my best buddy and makes me nice cups of tea on a Thursday lunchtime and really doesn’t notice if my hair is a mess or I’ve just taken my shoes off and put my feet up on his sofa without realising.

Rule No. 5: A reader should not be, just possibly, the cleverest person in the whole world with an IQ of about 200

But he knows what long words mean and can read (some) Hebrew and other clever languages like Latin and Greek. He does the cryptic crossword in the Guardian every day. Okay – I know ‘The White Cuckoo’ will be like Janet and John compared to the literary stuff he’s usually got his nose in, but A’s a bloke and there are blokes in my novel.

Rule No. 6: Readers should not be your daughter-in-law to be

Okay. Okay! I know. I know. She might hold it against me and tell my future grandchildren what a nutcase their granny is to even think she just might get published. But then again, I could earn lots of Brownie points and be a fab mother-in-law for trusting her with my precious manuscript. Not so daft after all, am I?

Rule No. 7: Readers should not be a work colleague

Well, H did a good job with Novel No. 1 didn’t she? And M did offer! She’s such a scatterbrain, though, I hope she doesn’t leave it on the bus or anything.


So now it’s being read by five people. This has got to be the worst bit of all. It is far, far worse than knowing that total strangers are reading your work.

Once I’ve got all the comments back I’ll do another complete edit, or rewrite if necessary, and then send it to my agent.

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11 thoughts on “The Very Scary Bit

  1. I thought you were being a bit mean about poor Emily there for a second. Took me a second to get the cow bit:-)You’ve got a great mixture of readers there Annie. Pfft to the ‘rules’.

  2. Annie, I am in awe. I just couldn’t send my first drafts out. The more I get to the end, the more ‘holey’ they are and only I would understand them I’m sure! And having just read the draft back, I have put a certain clue in so many times, (so that I find the right place to put it,which I now have) that any reader would be so mad thinking that I am patronsing them, just in case they miss it! I’ve just started on my second draft of book two. Can’t wait to get stuck into it but need to do a little research first. Then I’ll need some feedback. Good luck! x

  3. Sounds like you’ve got a lovely selection of readers there, which seems like a great idea to me.

  4. My first reader for teen novel #1 was my daughter and her opinion was very important indeed. She didn’t hold back on the bits she didn’t like either!Stuff the rules, hope they love it 🙂

  5. It sounds as if you’ve broken the rules ‘wisely’, Annie. I bet your grand-daughter will enjoy her longer feeds while Emily keeps reading.xxPat

  6. I liked the way you accompany your writing with a reader check list. I think that’s a brilliant idea.

  7. Lane – I saw what you mean when I re-read the post. Ooops.L-Plate – It really is horrible. It’s like looking through your fingers at a horror story. If they are good readers they will give you constructive criticism. I didn’t intend having 5 readers to begin with though. Readers are great for picking up inconsistencies in the plot, though. Debs – That remains to be seen. Already been told by Andy that I’ve got my ‘gentry’ mixed up with ‘nobility’ and that was on page 3.Tam – daughters are the most critical, I think.Helen – Just got 2 more to get back now.Captain – I might need another male point of view if Andy shouts at ‘Alan’ (I think he’ll find him a bit of a wos)Pat – Grand-daughter is getting huge (but completely breast-fed so it doesn’t matter).Fia – I also do a bullet point list of aspects of the novel I’d like them to concentrate on – egAndy on the male characters; Emily on main female character; Nicki on mature female character, etc.

  8. Rules are ment to be broken::) Im sure you will get some interesting varied responses:)

  9. The ghazal (also ghazel, gazel, gazal, or gozol) is a form of poetry common in Arabic, Persian, Turkish, Azerbaijani, Urdu and Bengali poetry. In classic form, the ghazal has from five to fifteen rhyming couplets that share a refrain at the end of the second line. This refrain may be of one or several syllables, and is preceded by a rhyme. Each line has an identical meter. The ghazal often reflects on a theme of unattainable love or divinity.christmas hampersalarm systems house

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