Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing & Publishing ~

Tag Archives: reviewer

Another “Review” of The Alien’s Book


I’m sort of “cheating” with this one since I just rediscovered it on my thumb-drive and it’s sort of a review/critique. It was written months ago before I submitted the book to my editor

Since it’s “review-like” I thought it deserved its own post :-)

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Alexander:

I am engrossed in your fiction and would love to read more. Your world painting, character development, dialogue, and imagery are all top-notch. What stands to be improved is your story’s structure, which is a bit clunky. By using transitions between your chapter breaks (or even creating numbered sub-chapters, ala Stephen King), you can enhance understanding. You have a flashback that is a good scene, but this is not a movie. It needs to be transitioned to. Point of view is a bit confusing, but it is all just a flaw of structure and so close to being fixed. Only some simple tweaking, I believe, with the structure to find a suitable and understandable rhythm for the reader.

I LOVE your prologue. It is very cleverly done and grips me immediately. To imagine that your protagonist is actually your co-author is a stroke of genius and a nice gimmick. I also think the setting is very well developed and interesting. I like how the planets come close to each other in their orbits over many years, allowing for more direct interaction. I also like the idea of plasma as an emotional and mental conduit. All very, very good. The planets become a dichotomy of existence, a split of the “survivalist” vs. “spiritual,” “technological” vs. “communal,” and “rational” vs. “irrational.” This is all very symbolic and when put into a good action story becomes an effective backdrop that does not become too preachy.

I have some general ideas/questions. First, I am interested to know what these aliens look like, at least their major similarities and differences between humans, if any. As a modern sci-fi writer, I timagine you buy into the idea that life evolving on another planet would have to have some sort of different physiology shaped by its own unique environment. I think this could be explained quite easily when your “co-author” is explaining the other similarities and differences between her race and humans. I would add it there somewhere, just a paragraph. It helps me “see” these people.

There were a few instances where some editing of word choice and sentence structure could be improved, but I will leave that to your copy editor.

FAVORITE PASSAGES
“I am a woman from a star system about twelve light-years from Earth. If you choose to believe me, my story is a history lesson—how to achieve unity and peace—a lesson that Earth desperately needs. If you choose to not believe I’m real, my tale is a science fiction story about how to achieve unity and peace—a lesson that Earth desperately needs…
—–Very nice, ironic statement. Also very well-worded.

“My “voice” will return when the story arrives at my birth.”
—–Thank you for telling us this. Very effective, as we wait for her, and puts your story on a timeline for us.

“Sorry for this short scientific digression but, if you don’t have a basic understanding of plasma, you’ll miss much of the meaning of this story.”
—–Successful gimmick for the early info-dump! I am envious of this…

“This is how I found Alexander, the co-author of this book.”
—–see above for accolades

“A simplistic example would be to say that we share things like the idea of dog and cat but not the knowledge of beagles and tabbies. A more accurate example would be that we easily share an idea like four-footed, domesticated animal but not ideas like dog or cat or lizard. Those differences take much more conceptual exploration and sharing.”
—–Sounds liked you have studied Plato and his dialogue on “forms.” I like!

“You have a bad habit of repeating what you know I already know, Morna.”
“Sometimes I feel it necessary.”
“It’s going to take the whole voyage for me to figure you out.”
“I believe it will take longer than that.”
“Could be, but the leadership on Anla apparently hate the Nari.”
“Yes.”
“Asking for a man their enemies worship…”
—–I like this exchange, but I need just ONE attribution to keep me on track with who is speaking, maybe somewhere in the middle.

“unwillingness to adhere to norms”
—–maybe use the word “deviance” somewhere here. In sociology, social deviance is exactly that, “unwillingness to adhere to norms.” I think the word adds to your crredibility. It seems that your Corporate World has a huge division of sociology, since they are so big on social engineering. Using deviance as their jargon increases the strength of your work.

“People who didn’t become passive through fear—those who fought against the invasive alteration of their feelings—were kept apart from others till they killed themselves.”
—–ghastly, but good!

I look forward to reading more. Now, I have to ask if you might consider returning the favor. It seems difficult to find people here who are willing to read a lengthy chapter; they tend to stick to poetry. It becomes a volume business with reviewing, that is why I try to focus on short stories and chapters as often as I can. These are the works that need the most exposure and reading. If you can stomach epic fantasy, I would love a review of the first chapter of my work, The Betrayer of the Virtues. Chapter is called “Kabar’s Creek.” Take your time to fit me in. I understand the pressure of trying to read, write, and review.

Thanks for sharing your work with me!

Patrick

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I did return the favor for Patrick :-)

And, for anyone who’s read this far into this post, I have a little bonus:

I’ve just begun to checkout the list of 58 potential places to have my book reviewed. One on that list had an asterisk in front of it from way back when I compiled the list. I discovered a major resource about Book Reviews. Enjoy :-)

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Our Comment Link Is At The Top of The Post :-)
Follow the “co-author” of Notes from An Alien, Sena Quaren:
On Twitter
AND, Get A Free Copy of Our Book

What Kind of Feedback Do Writers Need? What Helps Them Most?


Our last post had me offering to put your name and Bio and web link in a Special Listing in my forthcoming book.

All it takes is getting the free copy of Notes from An Alien and giving some feedback.

I need to quote part of C. M. Marcum’s comment on that post:

“But we’re such good friends now. Why spoil it?

“No, seriously, I have run the gauntlet of writing sites and I have found the relationships to be dreadfully one-sided.”

I think part of that one-sidedness is folks not knowing what writers really need when it comes to feedback. Though, I think C. M. knows exactly what kind of feedback to give, even if it’s not appreciated :-)

People who give feedback on a WIP [work-in-progress] are sometimes called “beta readers”.

I’ve even known writers who only let beta readers have their WIP if they follow a prepared outline of what questions to answer about the piece.

Personally, the very worst form of feedback is, “Great job!”, and its many variants.

If they meant those words, fine, but what was “great” about it? And, if they didn’t mean it and were thinking they “protected” my feelings, the faux-comment is actually an attack against honesty and fairness. “This sucks!”, is much more welcome…

There’s an interesting discussion about what writers want and need in feedback at the Absolute Write Water Cooler.

One of the most interesting comments was: “Beta readers should be used to critique story effectiveness.”

Exactly! What effect does the writing have on you? What did it make you think? What did it make you feel? What was your response to various characters? Was the storyline understandable? Where did the piece disappoint you? Why did it disappoint you?

Another person in that forum thread said: “…’train’ your beta readers to read with a pencil in hand. Have them mark any section, phrase or word that pops them out of the story, even if they have no idea why it did. Sometimes that’s all you need to see a problem.”

Now that is some excellent advice :-)

I’ll end this post with some quotes about feedback and critiquing:

“A guest sees more in an hour than the host in a year.”
~ Polish proverb

“Asking a working writer what he thinks about critics is like asking a lamppost how it feels about dogs.”
~ Christopher Hampton

“Constant, indiscriminate approval devalues because it is so predictable.”
~ Kit Reed

“Don’t judge any man until you have walked two moons in his moccasins.”
~ American Indian saying

“It is easy – terribly easy – to shake a man’s faith in himself. To take advantage of that, to break a man’s spirit is devil’s work.”
~ George Bernard Shaw

“He has a right to criticize, who has a heart to help.”
~ Abraham Lincoln

“When critics disagree, the artist is in accord with himself.”
~ Oscar Wilde

“Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee; rebuke a wise man and he will love thee.”
~ The Bible

“To escape criticism – do nothing, say nothing, be nothing.”
~ Elbert Hubbard

Please, leave your feedback and criticism in the comments :-)
[ The Comment Link Is At The Top of The Post :-]
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Follow the “co-author” of Notes from An Alien, Sena Quaren:
On Twitter
AND, Get A Free Copy of Our Book