This week I had to send a "tough love" letter to a client. In my opinion, their 87,000 word novel needs a major rewrite. A couple of the issues include too much going on, passive writing, and head hopping. But the main problem is that it's all tell, no show. It reads more like a text book than a novel. And that is definitely a fiction no-no.
So...I sent the first 72 edited pages back, explained the issues, and suggested reading through the comments and making changes before I proceed.
Then I said a quick prayer and waited for a response, my stress-related chocolate craving instantly kicking in.
Seriously, you never know how people will react to harsh critique. I try to speak in love and not to offend. I always let the client know my main objective is to help them create a better book and, ultimately, make them a better writer, but still. People often don't want to hear the truth. I didn't know if this client would respond with a nasty email, go on a defensive rant justifying the errors, or even insist that God gave them this story and who am I to tell them to change it! Yes, I hear this a lot. Hey...I'm all for godly inspiration. But when God "gives" you a story, He wants it to be as excellent as possible. That's why He created editors.
So anyway...when I saw a return email pop up only a few minutes later, I was nervous. I thought surely the client had just scanned over my message and shot off a hot-tempered response. I closed my eyes and clicked, swallowed hard, and peered at the screen.
The first words I saw: "Thank you for your comments!"
What? So not expecting that, but what a feeling of relief. This person went on to express complete acceptance of the feedback I'd given and was actually receiving my advice and suggestions. In other words, this client wants to improve. Wants to learn. Wants to grow. And if that means more work for them and humbling him/herself by admitting they don't know it all in order to produce a better book, so be it.
There is a lot of work ahead for this client. I don't know what will happen with their book and I don't even know if I'll be the one taking on the project of helping to rewrite it. But the attitude and willingness to receive harsh criticism is refreshing and admirable.
So it seems that my "tough love" letter was tougher for me than the client. While I'm thankful for this client's positive response, writing the letter was one of the toughest things I had to do this week. It's never easy to tell the truth, even when it needs to be told, and even when done in love.
Q4U: What was the toughest thing you did this week?