Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The covenant between writers and reviewers

I can well understand Vicki's feelings over receiving a bad review. I always file them under "you can't please 'em all" and try to forget about them. If you're not willing to hear anything bad about your writing, don't show anyone your work. Vicki, as a true pro, knows this well, and I'm positive that, while she doesn't have to like it, she understands why it happens.

The thing that has me steamed is that the reviewer was so dumb as to give away critical plot points. That is just plain amateur. Surely this person knows that a reviewer just should not do those sorts of things. It is exceptionally unfair to the writers. The title is "reviewer" or maybe "critic", but it isn't "destroyer". I often will read something that a certain reviewer pans simply because I find that I often feel the opposite of how they do.

However, if you give away crucial plot points, especially for a crime novel, you really ruin the book for everyone else. Hollywood has been known to blackball reviewers for doing this. It simply is not fair and breaks the unwritten agreement which exists between all artists and all reviewers or critics.

But take heart, Vicki! Here is a true story that should at least make you chuckle:

Debussy, the great French composer, was given a truly awful review for the premiere of one of his works. The reviewer went way overboard in his criticism. The next day, in the Letters to the Editor section of that newspaper, a letter from the composer appeared, saying, "Dear Sir, I sit here in the smallest room of my house with your review before me. Soon it will be behind me."

2 comments:

NL Gassert said...

I distinctly remember Tess Gerritsen mentioning that many of her reviews gave away major plot twists in her thrillers. This isn’t a new development, but it sure is a sad one.

I’m sorry to hear it happened to you, too, Vicki.

Debby (Deborah Turrell) Atkinson said...

Rick, I knew I liked Debussy's music (I've been trying to learn Claire de Lune for years), and now I'm sure I would have liked the man, too. Good one!