I don’t see eye to eye with Mr. Scalzi on very many things, but I couldn’t agree with him more here:
Perhaps since I give out a whole bunch of largely unsolicited writing advice, I am often asked by readers if I would look at the unpublished story/novel/screenplay/poem they’re working on and give them some feedback or advice. Indeed, perhaps you yourself have been thinking of asking me this very same thing. I have two things to say to this sort of request:
1. I’m really flattered that you would think of asking me to critique your work and would trust me to give you valuable feedback. Thank you.
While I enjoy working with people with whom I have a personal relationship, it’s work. While my literary success can best be described as “limited”, I still get bombarded by people that want me to read their work, critique their ideas and so forth. In the spirit of “giving back to the community” I did participate in the Critters Workshop for a while, only to discover that the vast majority of people don’t want criticism that will help them improve, they want encouragement. And I don’t do that.
The truth is that most would-be writers aren’t writers for a very good reason – they can’t write. A brief perusal of ten random blogs should suffice to demonstrate that to even the most optimistic idnvidual’s satisfaction. There are only two ways to become a successful author:
1. Write a lot, submit a lot and keep getting up after you get knocked down.
2. Become famous in some other field, preferably something involving large breast implants, and have your agent contact publishers about finding you a ghostwriter.
If you’re even somewhat attractive, I recommend the latter as your chances of success are much, much higher. (See: Price, Katie, Anderson, Pamela and Jameson, Jenna.)