Hilary! asked the following:
I have a VERY IMPORTANT QUESTION ABOUT BOOK WRITING!!!!!!!!! My Friend Weslie is writing a book and I’ve been helping her, but she won’t exactly tell me what the plot is, but i feel that since I am helping her with it anyway, she SHOULD tell me. What’s your take on it? PLEASE ANSWER PROMPTLY!!!!!
When you say you’re “helping” her I’m assuming you mean you are critiquing her work. Right? If so then, yes, it’s really difficult to make constructive comments when you have no idea where the book is going.
For instance, say she’s writing a vampire love story (judging from my poll opposite my readers are VERY into vampires) but she only slowly reveals that one of her characters is a vampre. You the critiquer need to know that so you can tell her whether her various clues along the way are too obvious or too subtle. It’s very difficult to critque a story when you don’t know where it’s going.
On the other hand, it might be that she wants to see whether you can figure out what’s happening and will rewrite depending on what you say. I don’t think this works that well unless she’s already written the entire story, in which case you’ll know what the plot is because you’ve got the whole story in front of you.
When I critique friends work-in-progress they always tell me where it’s going (if they know). Scott always tells me what the plot of his novels are before he writes them.1 My comments are much more useful when I have a sense of where the novel is going. Otherwise I’m not sure what to say except at a sentence-by-sentence level.
I’m not sure if I have answered your question. Anyone else got a different take?
- Things do change in the writing process, however. [↩]