Writers Groups, Writing Style

Ethical Dilemma

June 15, 2009

I belong to two writers’ groups. I often ask my peers to read my efforts, or listen when we meet and read aloud. I listen to my peers’ efforts as well. It’s an honor to share and be asked to review material.

Recently, one member asked me to read the first section of a novel he’s been working on, like, forever. I agreed. I have now reread his material twice. It has some errors — grammatical, word usage, sentence style, typos. I struggled with the dilemma: Do I correct everything or let the writer’s unique voice come through? Do I just fix the obvious typos and incorrect word choce?

The voice is not semi-literate. It’s just very different.

Any suggestions?

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  • Reply Becky Mushko June 15, 2009 at 2:19 pm

    Fix the obvious errors and incorrect words. Odds are good he missed them when he read what he'd word-processed (been there, done that).

    Maybe make a few notes about the stylistic things and suggest changes.

  • Reply Clementine June 20, 2009 at 9:38 pm

    Ugh. I'd ask him. Sometimes people submit a rough draft for critique knowing that they'll go back and correct the grammar. It could be he wants an opinion on the plot and or voice. BTW, thanks for visiting my blog!!!

  • Reply Elizabeth McKenzie June 21, 2009 at 4:42 pm

    That's a hard one, but if you have to wonder about what voice he's going for, maybe he hasn't captured it. I guess I'd ask him what he was after by having you read it. You wrote on my blog to write with your own unique voice. That's good advice. But the voice won't come through with all the grammar errors.

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