I've been reading manuscripts over the last week for some of my writer friends. First, I read a very cool YA thriller by Shelli Johannes Wells which is full of amazing, page-turning suspense. Great characters . . . great book. I can't wait to see it on the shelves.
Right now, I'm in the middle of Katie's very sexy, very intriguing YA novel. I don't want to give anything away, but she's right--it's wicked cool.
Critiquing manuscripts is tricky business. I tend to be overly heavy-handed with my comments, and I always try to remind my writer friends how subjective critiques are. My new favorite website is Shannon Hale's. In the section of her site called "Mincemeat", she gives some really juicy advice for writers. She also addresses how to take (and dish out) critique suggestions. She says, ". . .remember--others can identify the things that aren't working, but no one can tell you how to fix them. Unfortunately, that's the sole burden of the author." She also talks about the importance of recognizing when someone understands what it is you are trying to do as a writer. If you feel like someone doesn't "get" you, you should not give a whole lot of weight to that person's comments.
So . . . I'm trying hard to write notes suggesting problems without suggesting how to fix them. And, I completely expect my writer friends to ignore any comments that they think are completely off-base. That said, I'm loving doing this, and I'm learning so much about the craft and structure of writing novels. I've had a bit of a break from my own WIP, and I'm ready to get back to it with fresh, critical eyes.