Rubbed the Wrong Way

I recently finished the first draft of a new MG novel and I was eager to get some help with it. I know it’s a first draft and it probably needed more time with me before I sent it out, but I wanted to see if anyone was interested in doing a MS swap anyway. I found someone at SCBWI who was interested. I explained it needed help/was a first draft in my email when I sent it along.

I got an email from this person with critiques. They were honest and helpful about specifics I should be aware of for MG writing, but at the end of the list this person admit that they didn’t finish my MS because I needed to get the basics right first. I went through the attachment they sent and it looks like they only read 16 pages of the MS.

Now, I don’t know about you, but this feels rude. I am reading this person’s full MS, regardless of what condition it is in, because that is what we agreed to do. There was a full disclaimer that my novel was in the infant stages yet this person took a brief look and decided it wasn’t worth their time. I expect that from agents/editors but not from a fellow writer.

The comments they wrote made sense. I know I need to get to the action quicker, and there was a good point on how I should make the protagonist younger to fit the age of my audience. However, if I were critiquing the MS, I would put examples of good action and how to connect the dots. I would have read more to get a sense of the whole plot arc; to get a better idea of what was working in addition to what needed work. Reading 16 pages out of a 150 page MS is not enough. I don’t know this person’s views on what parts work for the age range since most of the action happens later. This person has written a couple MG books, but I can’t say I was helped since I don’t know what’s working. Why not say how long it took until you were engaged in the story instead of bowing out after chapter 3?

The basics I need to change (according to this person) include: age of character, getting to action faster/hook, and keeping interest in a first person POV. I don’t know if this is enough. These are things that can be improved, but it also sounds like problems with the beginning. What about the middle when more happens? How can I get there faster? What is too old/young for the age group in future events? I have so many things I want to know but I won’t get to because this person never critiqued the whole story. I can handle tough critique, I just can’t handle not fulfilling a promise of a full critique.

Am I justified in being upset and frustrated? Has anyone else had a critique partner who did a similar thing?

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Rubbed the Wrong Way

  1. Flat out, they need to read the whole thing. I’d ask if they’re going to read it when yo make adjustments for a critique. If not, pass on sending them anything and get a new partner.

  2. Luckily I explained that I felt shorted and they didn’t read my whole MS and they apologized and agreed to read it as is. They have a critique group that makes sure the first 10 pages are polished before moving on. It was a misunderstanding on what they thought would help me the most. I’m glad they understood my frustration and it worked out.

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