Clearing the detritus of the party from one corner, I place a bottle of 12-year-old McCallan double barrel and two small snifters on the kitchen table. My old friend, Peter, joined me and after taking a sip the single malt, opened a copy of my book I had given him for Christmas. He had not only read it, but to my great delight, had scribbled notes in the margins. It had been more than twenty years since anyone outside my household had so thoroughly reviewed my writing, and I was looking forward to hearing his thoughts.
Peter’s review was insightful. He pointed out a number of things that I hand not even considered, such as my choice of automobiles did not always fit the time-period, or the fact that a business card had been found on an otherwise naked body. (Talk about a thorough search!) He was kind enough to point out several scenes that he considered to be especially well written.
He concluded by point out one especially egregious error, one that I was painfully aware of. “Patrick,” he said. “I liked your story, and for the most part you did a good job, but you shouldn’t have just pulled the ending out of your arse.” I can always rely in Peter to give me the unvarnished truth. He liked the ending, but correctly pointed out that I had neglected to give the reader any hints — no foreshadowing, no little tidbits they could look back upon and say, “Oh yea”.
A friendly, well-read critic who is willing to give you a frank review of your work is to be treasured. Be sure to thank them by improving your writing and, oh yes, when you offer them a wee drop of the craythur, make sure it’s top shelf.