Editing

lI think most of the major edits for my novel are done. I've got the book out to two more readers - the last two, I believe! I wasn't really asking for more feedback, but when people ask you if they can read your book, how do you say no? And if they want to take the time to write comments and offer suggestions on how to tighten the prose, how do you turn that away?

Still, I can't imagine they'll find too much to complain about. There really can't be that many errors left! Although, I've learned because we all have different writing styles and reading preferences, there almost an infinite list of changes someone could propose. ~sigh~

I should have prefaced that by mentioning that I'm guilty of offering big and small suggestions as well when I agree to read/react to someone else's writing. I know this because over the last few weeks I've been editing two novels and proofing short stories for some newbies in my writing forum.

I always worry about giving feedback because you never know how the author will take it. Some are very mature and, while they may disagree with you, they're still willing to take your impressions under consideration. Others withdraw, scarred and angry, never to return. It's scary editing for someone. After all, how honest should you be? Should you really act like the grammar police? And what do you do if you simply don't care for the story for whatever reason? Should you just admit it's not your "cup-o-tea" and politely hand it back with an apologetic shrug?

I know how I usually handle these things - I don't think I've ever handed something back without offering at least some kind of constructive feedback. If something rubbed me the wrong way, not because it wasn't written well, but because it went against my personal belief system, moral standards, ethical framework, I let the writer know I left that element of story untouched and focused my attention elsewhere (grammar, sentence structure...).

I'm only thinking about this because I have been so inundated with editing requests that it's really forced me to evaluate my own critiquing methods.