Who in their right mind would want to write a book?

Catfished - the Story. The comments are also worth reading.

(Hat-tip to author David Hewson’s website - http://davidhewson.com/2014/10/why-authors-shouldnt-respond-to-reviews/)

I’ve had feedback from people who have told me that the end of HANSON DRAKE is wrong: not that they don’t like ending, but that it is factually incorrect. :unamused:

I’ve also had people ask me to rewrite the ending and to remove/rewrite one chapter (The Fawn).

So far, I haven’t been flamed.

Most people are really very kind or enquiring, but some clearly understand the book in ways that I never intended.

What a horror story…

Online trolling is illegal in the UK. It currently carries a six month jail sentence, although Ministers have announced intentions to raise this to two years.

Interestingly, under UK law (and probably in some other jurisdictions as well), consent of the victim is no defence to a charge of assault or similar offences, and self harm can trigger incarceration for your own protection (albeit in a very different kind of facility).

Should we, the self-trolling scrivenati, be worried? If I suddenly go missing for an extended period of time is there anyone on the forum who knows how to produce a writ of habeas corpus?

I once writ about a demon kicked out of Hell, that any good?

“Wrong.” Well, if you’re going to write history you’d better be sure to… oh… wait… :wink:

Well, at least they asked. Received any submissions for said changes?

Trying to remember “The Fawn” - will need to revisit to see if that was the chapter I knew was wrong.

Good to know. The Guardian story was disturbing.

That’s a good sign.
Unless, of course, they all interpret it the same way and only your intentions are different. :unamused:

If involuntary admission to a mental health facility is your concern, then habeas corpus is not what you will need. While I am not conversant with the specifics of relevant UK law, I understand it is similar to the laws here. As such, I would expect that you could apply to have your case reviewed by the chief psychiatrist (or UK equivalent). You would probably want someone to advocate for your sanity*, so I expect you will not call on my services.

[size=75]technically this is not necessary. From memory, involuntary admission as a patient does not require evidence of “insanity”, only that a restricted environment is required to protect self or others OR that it is required for the provision of adequate treatment AND that the person involved is currently incapable of providing consent*.
**Which is reasonable, otherwise unconscious people would never be admitted into hospital :unamused: [/size]

Hi Nom

Yes, people have suggested alternative endings, or just said that the “Warning” and “Epilogue” should be removed. Most people want Hanson to be paired off with someone (male or female) at the end.

“The Fawn” is the chapter where Hanson and John go to help a dying animal. People dislike the animal’s distress, and dislike even more the actions that Hanson takes. The chapter is meant to raise a number of social, moral, and ethical questions (as each chapter is … I have toyed with the idea of writing a set of teachers notes to accompany the book), and I intended the chapter to have several interpretations/meanings: (1) the simple story of what happens in the chapter (understandable by a child); (2) to act as an allegorical tale relating to the fates of three people (one in the book and two real-life figures); (3) to act as a signpost for what is to come in later chapters; (4) to act as a tale about differences between town and country living; (5) to raise questions about Hanson’s psyche; and (6) to jolt people/make them question their view of Hanson and the tone of the book up until that point.

The text of “The Fawn” has a number of important clues, though from correspondence it seems that most people only read the simple narrative of the chapter and get upset by that.

As for people’s interpretations of the whole novel, I’ve had a range of messages. Most understand it as a festive tale, with Hanson Drake going on a journey not unlike Scrooge’s or George Bailey’s (It’s A Wonderful Life). I’ve had some unusual interpretations: things I had never imagined.

As for me, I wrote the book to have seven core interpretations, with various sub-interpretations possible, dependant on people’s points of view. (For obvious reasons, I’m not going to list what the core interpretations are.)

I think most people read the words and see the most obvious story, which is fine, but they miss the deeper themes that run through the novel. I’m happy if the simplest arc (I hate that word) gives them pleasure. I’m also happy knowing that people can dig deeper if they want to. Really love getting emails from people who say they’ve read the book or one of its chapters several times over to try to work things out.

Perhaps the people who want the ending rewritten are flaming me. It’s just that they do it so nicely: willing Hanson to have a different fate.

I think you hit it … people are not analyzing.

This seems to be particularly true of the amateur AND professional reviews I’ve read. More about personal feeling than the larger workmanship/artistry of the author. I liken the lack of effort on the part of reviewers to a “foodie” acquaintance who won’t eat foods that have ingredients he doesn’t like. His response is “the chef is incompetent because they should now I don’t like that”. I don’t like tomatoes either, but I will eat, and enjoy the work of a chef who adds them to my meal IN SPITE of my personal preference.

Anyway, as the article illustrated, the internet seems to be reducing the critical thought process to “mob rule” these days. If you have a thought of your own prepare to get beaten down unless it is the thought the mob wants to give you.

BAH! I’m going fishing.

I think reviews say as much about the reviewer as they do about the book or author (film, director, actor, etc).

1 Star: I was too stupid to read the blurb. This book isn’t for me.

2 Stars: I forgot to read the blurb. This book isn’t for me.

3 Stars: I read the blurb. I should have read the first chapter before buying. This book is almost a fit for me.

4 Stars: I read the blurb and the first chapter before I bought the book. This book is almost a perfect fit for me.

5 Stars: I read the blurb and the first chapter before I bought the book. This book is me.

I don’t understand people hating books but bothering to read them to the end. I know I don’t like certain genres (of books and films) so I avoid them. If a book or film is in a genre I like, I read the blurb, reviews and watch the trailers and then make up my mind if I want to read the book/see the film.

Flaming a writer/director/actor just makes the person who is having the rant look facile.

I do this. I’m looking to understand “why” I don’t like it. Or “what might others like about this”. Just like with dining, it isn’t about “this flavor pleased me” as much as about “I see how this worked with that”. To me it makes absolute sense to try something you know you won’t like. Not all the time, but every now and then.

This is the luxury of us “arm chair critics”. We can choose to be rational or not. I like to think I’m rational. Which is hard to believe given my associations with vic-k, piggy and Wock.

My goodreads reviewing scale goes like this:

5 stars = A classic that I fully expect to re-read many times over the course of my life
4 stars = A really good example of the genre
3 stars = A solid book. Enjoyable, but not, for example, the first book by that author I’d recommend to a new reader
2 stars = Below expectations
1 star = I abandoned this book, and will not attempt to finish it at a later date.

I agree - it’s very rare that I should have to give a 1 star review to a book that made it through a publishers filter; it would imply that I’m reading outside my interests. An example of a 1 star from me is Be Cool by Elmore Leonard. On paper I should love his work. In practice, this was – for me – wow, it was bad. Yet, on average it gets a solid 3.5 stars across all it’s reviews on goodreads. So the bottom line is that it’s clearly a book others enjoy, but not for me.

I know certain genres just aren’t going to appeal, so I avoid them completely. Not because of the writing but the subject matter. I’ve never liked horror, for example. Never will.

I’m happy to try books “on the edge”, but I can’t slog through them just to finish them. Too many books. Not enough time.

I admire this stance and concur. Admire Jaysen’s stance as well, of course.

That last one may be a huge mistake.

I hate horror. And “demon horror” in particular. Yet I’ve read several SK and … crap, I can’t remember her name … novels to understand why they were good. It was terribly painful, but a good lesson in how you can capture the attention of a disinterested reader with a good technique. I would have given the book 4 stars though.

But I like to think of myself as someone who is out to experience “new things”. And that might be the difference. While I read for entertainment, I also look for things to learn. So it is never a passive “amuse me” exercise. That’s what the boob tube is for…

I’m another who will usually read/watch to the end (unless I get distracted, but that’s another story). Although, having said that, I couldn’t bring myself to finish Paul Auster’s The Brooklyn Follies. I am assured it’s a good book but, and I hesitate to admit this publicly, I was bored by it. It is one of the few books I chose to stop reading. Another was China Miéville’s Perdido Street Station - abandoning that book almost cost me a friendship. It was leant to me by some friends and they were offended I didn’t like it. Assured me if I read more of it I will like it and refused to accept the book’s return until I finish it. Wish I knew where it was now (I just checked the bookshelf where I “knew” it was and… it’s not). :confused:

Both of these books are ones that, on paper, I should like. They are, however, also the exceptions. I could provide a very long list of books that have disappointed in one way or another (sometimes in many ways simultaneously) that I have still read to the end. Sadly, there is a disturbingly high proportion of fantasy novels on that list, including some by authors I generally love.

Similar to Jaysen, I am interested in experience. I have been known to order a single bean coffee and, after tasting it carefully as it slowly cools, proclaim it to be an excellent coffee even though I didn’t like it. I can see that some Rococo art is exquisite, even though it’s ugly. And some authors produce work that, although not to my taste, is interesting despite the alienness.

Then there’s Paul Auster… :unamused:

I have ploughed through books (and films) I haven’t liked, but these days I’d rather move on to something else. I don’t necessarily think the books are bad, I just realise that they aren’t for me.

I understand Jaysen’s point about reading horror as an experience, but I’ve got to a point where I know that some genres are never going to appeal. Just as being a vegetarian I know I’m never going to eat meat. Tried it, don’t like it.

Writing and editing for a living, I read an eclectic subject mix. I will try new works when it comes to reading for pleasure, but if I don’t get hooked by the first few chapters, I move on.

I used to be obsessive about knowing what happened at the end of a book. Would force myself to finish. The first book I ever gave up on was Alex Haley’s Roots. It was kind of liberating to know that it was okay to put a book back on the shelf without feeling compelled to finish it.

Joining a library completely changed my outlook. Books went from expensive commodities to be cherished, to something else entirely: a practically limitless pool of entertainment (more new books are published each year than I could ever hope to read in a lifetime) that the government is prepared to provide me for free!

With that new perspective I decided that I simply don’t have enough hours left on the planet to waste a single one reading something I’m not enjoying. It also provides, perhaps, a different perspective on what a 5 star (ie, a book I intend to re-read several times) book means to me.

I think there is a ket point that I need to be careful in stressing:

To me this is about removing myself from my daily grind and into something that works different cranial muscles. It is the “long weekend bike ride” for me. So what is there are lots of cars (Melville’s horrendous dissertations) or swarms of bees (SK horror). I’M FREE TO RIDE!!!

It seems to me that Nom is in the same space I am in…

Not Mr Piggy, he’s opened the other can of worms:

He’s not looking for the cranial aerobics as nom and me. This isn’t a bad thing, but points to the statement I made earlier, his review will be tainted by the preference of “entertainment value”.

Which points to a hole in the review systems. How do you validate a readers intent when reading a book? Clearly they are not always objective about their own intentions. Do you require a ‘profession’ statement? per the article that started this thread, one can easily lie about that.

I have no answers. Just suggesting that most of the online information related to “consumer feedback” is next to useless. It is a mob on a power trip.

Personally, I read for pleasure rather than entertainment (if such a differentiation is allowable).

I want the pleasure of (1) good writing, and (2) an original story that I can feel some connection to or affection for.

I often baulk because of the writing: IMO many authors overwrite (Oh, JKR, why wouldn’t you listen to me?) and many publishers allow sloppy mistakes to appear in print. I picked up a Martin Amis novel recently, but put it down at the end of the first sentence.

I also think that there are far too many write-by-numbers books that slavishly follow formulas handed down by creative writing courses and how-to books. Too many ‘writers’ following the same recipes and producing the same half-baked and uninspiring books.

So I am very much of one mind with pigfender’s “I simply don’t have enough hours left on the planet to waste a single one reading something I’m not enjoying”.

Review systems are flawed. People are all too often deliberately or inadvertently disingenuous. They have an angle. A prism that they see the world through.

But in the end, don’t we learn to review the reviewers? Get to understand people’s tastes? Find a balance? Filter out the noise? The sound and fury that signifies nothing?

For example, for movies, I subscribe to itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/mar … 02698?mt=2 — I’m often at odds with the main reviewer (Mark Kermode), but by knowing that, I manage to get a sense of the films that I am most likely to want to see. As we build up experience of reviews, reviewers, and the review system, we find the path that best suits us.

Even with consumer reviews, we can often see other reviews by the same reviewer, allowing us the chance to assess whether that reviewer’s views are balanced, interesting, and well judged.