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Topic: How do I let someone down?

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Subject: How do I let someone down?
Date Posted: 12/10/2008 3:38 PM ET
Member Since: 10/10/2007
Posts: 5,272
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My DH, whom I love dearly, has been chipping away at his first novel.  It's supposed to be a satire of all things Disney with a murder mystery thrown in for good measure. 

After a couple of years, he finally finished his first working draft and asked me to proof-read it for grammatical errors or glaring plot holes or stuff.  As you might imagine, because I frequent this site, I like to read, but I like to read things that are well written, or at least well-researched.  Well, it wasn't that good, and I red-inked it all up.  (I have had a lot more English / Grammar classes than he does).  I pointed out all of the problems and he was ok with it and re-worked it.  That was 6 months ago. 

He has since printed out rough draft #2, which comes in twice as long (184 pages, front and back) and is even more unbearable to read.  I decided this time that I would number my comments and list them separately on notebook paper, rather than trying to write really tiny in the margins to get my point across.   So far, I'm on page 14 (of the novel) and am up to 76 valid issues:  comma splices, run-on sentences that take up an entire paragraph, poorly worded sentences, wildly implausible plot lines.  The worst is that he originally intended to write this as a screenplay, so occasionally I'll run across staging directions as if he were a director.  Oh, and his characters suddenly burst into song and complex dance routines every few pages. 

It's taken me three days to get through 14 pages, because I find I'm writing comments about everything, but it's just... bad.    :(   
So, any idea how I can get myself out of this mess?  I don't want to hurt his feelings, but it's just.... bad.  One of my friends suggested sending it to a professional editor, but I don't know how to do that or how much it would cost, and we're strapped for cash right now.  

Date Posted: 12/10/2008 4:26 PM ET
Member Since: 5/6/2008
Posts: 5,643
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Hi Nancy...First of all, I wish you lived next door to me. I could use some Grammer help. I don't know about your husband, but I fully appreciate every single correction I receive. My sister-in-law was my critique partner, and she does not accept correction well on her writing, so now I have no one because everyone else just tells me, "Yeah, it was good." That's not what we need or how to learn; maybe he knows that. 
Does he have books on writing? I have a ton, and do not pay much for them. I joined Writer's Digest Book Club, got a bunch for .99 a piece, and then only had to buy 2 more at full price. I ordered quite a few from PBS.

You should also see if you can get him to write some short stories. It would be easier on you and he can enter them in contest like Writer's Digest Magazine. That does cost money, but there are free contest out there too. L. Ron Hubburd's contest is free, but it has to be any kind of fantasy or Sci Fi. Pick him up a copy of Writer's Digest mag if he doesn't get it already (I stopped, the subscription got too expensive) and let him breeze through it. They also have one contest that's free he might enjoy entering.

If he REALLY wants to do this, support him. My husband is no support what-so-ever, and he's never read one word I wrote. I started writing four years ago and am amazed at how much I've learned all by myself without taking classes. There's also free on-line places he can go to pick-up tips. If you want, I'll give you a list of anything--just let me know.

Date Posted: 12/12/2008 10:43 PM ET
Member Since: 10/13/2007
Posts: 36,445
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Best thing I can suggest is to sign him up for F2K, its a free 7 week writing course that gives beginners a solid base to learn about writing.

People there are nice and you can pay to have a mentor ($25) or else class mates will comment on your work, they arent allowed to be mean and only allowed to give constructive advice.  I just finished the course and signed up for their parent website (Writers village university).

http://4-writers.com/   will get you to the page.

If you read a page and find it silly, plot not working, TELL HIM, say this is not working and is not making sense. You dont need to tell him he is a bad writer just that the story is not going anywhere.

Plus tell him a proper manuscripted is double spaces and single sided so the edit can make comments and circle errors.  Grab a highlighter and use it to show his mistakes, if he sees pages of yellow he will get the message. Seriously, when I started writing I want to people to tell me if I sucked or not.  rather then doing the whole thing, do the first chapter (if its not in chapters yet he has major issues) get him to rewrite that before even going onto the next.  If you cannot get an explosively good first chapter NO publisher is going to take it on.

if he needs a writing program to keep things in order try ywriter its free.  It is written by a writer for writers..

If he is going to write a screenplay then he needs to write it as such and NOT switch back and forth. 

A professional editor is very expensive, some charge per word and some charge per page but usually it costs $500 PLUS.

And yes do be supportive, best thing my hubby tells me is to have fun writing and if that is what I wish to do then its great. Just keep trying to do better.

As for the disney idea *hides* if he names disney things that are copywrited to disney that will make his story harder to get published due to all the legal crap.

Is he writing because he loves to write or is he writing because he wants to make money? if its the second then tell him he isnt the best writer, to write well you need to have teh drive and love to write.

Date Posted: 1/24/2009 5:06 PM ET
Member Since: 12/16/2008
Posts: 6
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Teach him 5 or 6 concepts, then let him go through the book and fix them himself. 

He needs to learn how to write.  It is impossible to rewrite someone else's book, line by line.