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mirrorkisses
07-07-2008, 01:27 AM
So, my mother is one of the main people that reads my work. I know, everyone always says never let your family read your work before its done. Well, my mother used to write, so she has a lot of insight.
Except today she and I got in a little argument.
She told me how I should do a scene differently. Not as in a small change, this would have required a rewrite. I've already rewritten this scene once, and I got really frustrated at her because I have agents waiting on this manuscript, and I feel like if I write scenes the way she thinks it should go, it's no longer my novel. I know that that isn't my mom's intention. She's just trying to help me create a great novel (on my own merit).

When I've heard that you don't let family read your stuff, I thought it was because none of them would tell you the truth! Not because they might think you should change whole scenes!

I don't mind normal critical comments from my mom, and I appreciate them, but I just don't want her to tell me how I should write my novel.

Phaeal
07-07-2008, 02:09 AM
The problem with showing your work to family is you have to live with them afterwards. Another problem that frequently arises is that most family members aren't also writers or even necessarily close readers.

Evidently your mother is a qualified beta reader. This gives her the option of making suggestions on changes from the very minor to the major. But guess what? You don't have to take the suggestions.

However! Impatience to get done is NOT a good reason to shrug off criticism, nor is one rewrite of a scene necessarily sufficient. So make sure you're bridling because your authorial integrity is at stake, not because you're in a hurry. ;)

mirrorkisses
07-07-2008, 02:31 AM
oh no, i promise my biggest reason is that I just don't want it to turn into her story.

WendyNYC
07-07-2008, 02:36 AM
oh no, i promise my biggest reason is that I just don't want it to turn into her story.

I sometimes take suggestions and ideas from my beta readers, but I never consider it to then no longer be my story. I'm still the one writing it, right?

Would you feel differently if it was a random beta reader or an editor instead of your mother?

mirrorkisses
07-07-2008, 02:46 AM
Would you feel differently if it was a random beta reader or an editor instead of your mother?

I'm not sure. Quite possibly I'd feel different if it were a beta reader. I've thought about getting a beta reader, but I have a little more work to do before then.

Soccer Mom
07-07-2008, 02:54 AM
If you give your mother your ms to read and you are looking for feedback, she is a beta reader. All you need to say is thanks for your feedback mom and I'll think about it. Then do it how ever you choose. If you ask for feedback from someone, it isn't fair to get pissed if they give it to you.

aliajohnson
07-07-2008, 03:02 AM
So, my mother is one of the main people that reads my work. I know, everyone always says never let your family read your work before its done. Well, my mother used to write, so she has a lot of insight.
Except today she and I got in a little argument.
She told me how I should do a scene differently. Not as in a small change, this would have required a rewrite. I've already rewritten this scene once, and I got really frustrated at her because I have agents waiting on this manuscript, and I feel like if I write scenes the way she thinks it should go, it's no longer my novel. I know that that isn't my mom's intention. She's just trying to help me create a great novel (on my own merit).

When I've heard that you don't let family read your stuff, I thought it was because none of them would tell you the truth! Not because they might think you should change whole scenes!

I don't mind normal critical comments from my mom, and I appreciate them, but I just don't want her to tell me how I should write my novel.

We're in the same boat. My mom is my beta-reader, and I couldn't ask for a better one. But the mother-daughter dynamics do make it difficult sometimes. It's hard to agree without feeling like you're caving in to a parent's demand, and it's hard to say no without fear of hurting feelings.

We've worked out a pretty good system in which I agree to listen to--and seriously consider--any and all suggestions, from the change of one word, to rewriting the entire book. And she agrees to let the matter drop if I simply say, "no thanks". Neither of us is allowed to become pushy or defensive.

It's really important, I think, to have an understanding in advance when it comes to giving/receiving crit from a family member.

If you've given it a lot of thought, and you're certain your mom's idea isn't something that would work for your story, then tell her you appreciate the suggestion, but it just isn't the direction you want to take the book. If she won't let it drop after that, you might need to look elsewhere for a beta-reader. Sorry. :(

mirrorkisses
07-07-2008, 03:13 AM
We're in the same boat. My mom is my beta-reader, and I couldn't ask for a better one. But the mother-daughter dynamics do make it difficult sometimes. It's hard to agree without feeling like you're caving in to a parent's demand, and it's hard to say no without fear of hurting feelings.

We've worked out a pretty good system in which I agree to listen to--and seriously consider--any and all suggestions, from the change of one word, to rewriting the entire book. And she agrees to let the matter drop if I simply say, "no thanks". Neither of us is allowed to become pushy or defensive.

It's really important, I think, to have an understanding in advance when it comes to giving/receiving crit from a family member.

If you've given it a lot of thought, and you're certain your mom's idea isn't something that would work for your story, then tell her you appreciate the suggestion, but it just isn't the direction you want to take the book. If she won't let it drop after that, you might need to look elsewhere for a beta-reader. Sorry. :(

No, I've thought about it and I think she';s right about the suggestion.... I just get a little defensive sometimes. Not as in defensive about my writing and don't like criticism, but I just sometimes want her to understand why I've done the things I've done in my writing.

My mom and I have a very open relationship and she doesn't push her ideas on me, we just got in an argument.... It happens.

aliajohnson
07-07-2008, 03:32 AM
No, I've thought about it and I think she';s right about the suggestion.... I just get a little defensive sometimes. Not as in defensive about my writing and don't like criticism, but I just sometimes want her to understand why I've done the things I've done in my writing.

My mom and I have a very open relationship and she doesn't push her ideas on me, we just got in an argument.... It happens.


I'm glad you worked it out! :hooray: It can be tough when it's a family member. There's a lot more going on there than just the reading of the MS, but the pay-offs can be huge. Like feeling perfectly comfortable asking for more of their time, or nagging at them them to hurry up--I do that last part quite a bit. :D

Kalyke
07-07-2008, 03:34 AM
My mother said I was a hack. She wouldn't even read it. It plunged me into writer's block for years. I would never let a family member read my work. Personally, when and if I publish, I really would not tell them until I had a few books published. They absolutely stab me in the back any time I give them any ammunition. I never doubt it, so I don't tell them anything. I just smile and wave, like the Queen.

Sean D. Schaffer
07-07-2008, 03:48 AM
So, my mother is one of the main people that reads my work. I know, everyone always says never let your family read your work before its done. Well, my mother used to write, so she has a lot of insight.
Except today she and I got in a little argument.
She told me how I should do a scene differently. Not as in a small change, this would have required a rewrite. I've already rewritten this scene once, and I got really frustrated at her because I have agents waiting on this manuscript, and I feel like if I write scenes the way she thinks it should go, it's no longer my novel. I know that that isn't my mom's intention. She's just trying to help me create a great novel (on my own merit).

When I've heard that you don't let family read your stuff, I thought it was because none of them would tell you the truth! Not because they might think you should change whole scenes!

I don't mind normal critical comments from my mom, and I appreciate them, but I just don't want her to tell me how I should write my novel.


Think about it this way: you have the ability and the right to make your own decisions concerning your novel. Your mother might make suggestions, but as she did not create the work, you're not required to do everything her way.

HOWEVER, you may want to step back for a moment, and consider your mother's suggestion. All I mean by that is, she's looking at your manuscript having just read it. So, look at the validity of her suggestions based upon their own merit, instead of letting your feelings about who wrote the book get in the way. You're still not required to implement the changes, but I think you should think about it before making that decision. After all, you did ask your mother for advice (or so I assume :Shrug: ). So it would stand to reason that you should at least think about what your mother said and see if it really will work better for your story.

Good luck to you, whatever decision you make. :)

Mumut
07-07-2008, 03:56 AM
The fact that you have already re-written the scene could mean there's something wrong with it still. Can you model it your own way with your mother's ideas contributing but not dominating?

My wife is my beta reader. I'm lucky, she's never had any problems criticising me so I get the truth from her.

Toothpaste
07-07-2008, 04:02 AM
I'm with Sean.

I'm not sure I see the big problem. You say your mother is a good beta reader because she is honest. She shared with you her opinions. You disagree. End of. You are under no obligation to write the scene the way she said. And I'm not sure what being your mother has to do with any of it, unless you hold your mother to a different standard of beta reader than your others.

I think your problem is less with your mother, and more with the fear that what if she is right (even if you know in the end she isn't) and the MS is out with agents. That is a problem when having beta readers read your work AFTER it is out on submission. At that point there is nothing you can do to fix it, and if people make suggestions well it will only frustrate you and make you worry that your book might not be ready for the industry. From now on, ask for their opinion BEFORE you send it out.

My parents are my beta readers. They are always honest with me, correct things from spelling to plot problems. But there are times when I give them something and I preface it with "This is really rough, I just want a general opinion if you think I am on the right track or not." Maybe next time you could say to your mother, "Here is the MS. I've already subbed it to agents, so I can't make any changes, but I would still like to hear your overall impression." Or something.

But I don't see any reason to be mad at your mom, unless there is more to this story than you are sharing.

mirrorkisses
07-07-2008, 04:25 AM
But I don't see any reason to be mad at your mom, unless there is more to this story than you are sharing.

I wasn't mad at her. I just got frustrated, as people do with their parents sometimes. I think what you said about mentioning what kind of feedback you want is a good idea. I enjoy my mother's feedback and really appreciate it. I took some time to think about the suggestion she gave, and I will be making that change. My manuscript has not been submitted yet, because the agents in question that are aware that some revising is in order.

Toothpaste
07-07-2008, 04:27 AM
Oh good! I'm glad you still have the chance to make the change. And I totally get the frustrated with parents thing, it's in our DNA!

Good luck with it!

mirrorkisses
07-07-2008, 04:29 AM
I'm glad you worked it out! :hooray: It can be tough when it's a family member. There's a lot more going on there than just the reading of the MS, but the pay-offs can be huge. Like feeling perfectly comfortable asking for more of their time, or nagging at them them to hurry up--I do that last part quite a bit. :D
I agree, there's a little more there when a family member is your beta reader. But my mom has given really great suggestions, and I trust her to be honest with me (my father loves everything I do creatively, so, while sweet, he is untrustworthy for this sort of thing).


My mother said I was a hack. She wouldn't even read it. It plunged me into writer's block for years. I would never let a family member read my work. Personally, when and if I publish, I really would not tell them until I had a few books published. They absolutely stab me in the back any time I give them any ammunition. I never doubt it, so I don't tell them anything. I just smile and wave, like the Queen.

I can't imagine a family member not supporting your creative endeavors! I hope you have some friends that are supportive of your writing.

Kalyke
07-07-2008, 08:33 AM
I can't imagine a family member not supporting your creative endeavors! I hope you have some friends that are supportive of your writing.

I actually don't even know anyone who reads more than the back of a box, or a television schedule.

I'm sure more than a few writers are in this situation.

In a way, it is not that bad because I have no one trying to play emotional blackmail with my work, on the other hand it is nice to hear what people think, but it is not a requisite.

willietheshakes
07-07-2008, 09:06 AM
My wife is my first and probably best reader. My mother gets the books once they're in ARC. Sent directly from the publisher. Late.

I think that probably says all that needs saying about that dynamic.

Momento Mori
07-07-2008, 03:10 PM
mirrorkisses:
She told me how I should do a scene differently. Not as in a small change, this would have required a rewrite. I've already rewritten this scene once, and I got really frustrated at her because I have agents waiting

I think this is a good reason why you should make sure you've done the rewrites and editing before you submit to agents in that if you're still making changes during the submission process, it just makes the whole thing more stressful.

My dad (who's a professional journalist and published historian) reads my work and I read his. Sometimes we have disagreements about something the other has written and when we do, we each retreat to our corners and take some time to think about it before making a decision.

At the end of the day (to use the cliche), it's your manuscript and you have to do what you think is best. That said however, if you're asking someone for their opinion, it's very difficult to prescribe what they should tell you. If nothing else, if your mum has a suggestion for how you should write the scene, take a calm moment to sit down and think about to what extent it fits in with what you're trying to achieve. If it really doesn't work, then move on your own way. If it does work, then make the change.

Hope it all comes good for you.

MM

Don Allen
07-07-2008, 04:14 PM
I just ran into a situation over the weekend where my beta's 2 sisters got really upset when i told them i had to change the ending of my book, per a professional editor/screenwriters suggestions, and that I agreed with him. Oh my goodness did we have a fourth of July firework display in the house. Finally, I just ended the discussion by telling them I loved their passion for my work but needed to sell it, and if changing the ending was the key, then that was what I was going to do,,,, it was actually kind of neat that they were so invested in their opinions, but, you got to do what you got to do, right?

tehuti88
07-07-2008, 06:40 PM
Feedback from my family would be bad because none of them are readers. They don't understand things like grammar and symbolism and characterization, nor do they care to understand. Nor are they remotely interested in the kind of stuff I write. All I have to do is mention a line or a scene from a story of mine and their eyes glaze over or they change the subject. If they do ask anything, it's "what you intend to do with" the writing, since it's not serving any purpose unless it's getting published. Sigh.

In some ways I guess it's for the best, since I'd REALLY not like them telling me how to write, but they could at least show a little, I don't know, encouragement, you know?

Phaeal
07-08-2008, 05:31 PM
In an ideal world, family members would be unfailingly supportive. Oops. Someone screwed up. Ain't no ideal world here, baby.

On the other hand, Tolstoy had it right -- it's the unhappy families that make good fiction. So we can thank our dysfunctional relatives for giving us good material. ;)

mirrorkisses
07-09-2008, 12:07 AM
In an ideal world, family members would be unfailingly supportive. Oops. Someone screwed up. Ain't no ideal world here, baby.

On the other hand, Tolstoy had it right -- it's the unhappy families that make good fiction. So we can thank our dysfunctional relatives for giving us good material. ;)

Well, my family is not dysfunctional, but I've dealt with clinical depression all my life, so I think that counts. ;)