Some Writer-to-Writer Advice

Let me be clear; I love the Red Pen of Destruction.  I love getting it used on my books.  I liberally use it on other books when it is necessary.

I do some beta reading for other authors.  I enjoy it.  It gives me a chance to read free ebooks and sometimes help make them better.  Authors message me on Facebook, Twitter, and my email, which is really not that private.  However, I think it might be time to talk about the unsolicited beta reading… author to author.

Recently, I was asked to beta read a novel that the author had labeled intense thriller.  I like thrillers.  I like intensity.  I like blood, guts, and gore.  If there’s enough of that, I can overlook minor things that would normally turn me off to a book.  She sent me the synopsis and it sounded decent, so I had her send it.

The first chapter was cops arriving on scene for a murder.  Chapter 2 was cops getting leads.  Chapter 3 was about Cop A’s love life falling apart.  Chapter 4 was running down a single lead.  Chapter 5 was Cop A getting drunk at a bar and going home with the murder suspect from the lead they ran down in Chapter 4.  Chapter 6 was about Cop A finding out she was pregnant with their former cop boyfriend’s kid.  Chapter 7 was Cop A and Ex-Boyfriend Cop talking about the pregnancy.  Chapter 8 was Cop A getting depressed and going home with a different person that night, after drinking, despite being pregnant.  Chapter 9 was about Cop A regretting the choices she had made in life up to that point.  Chapter 10 Cop A and Partner run down another lead.  Chapter 11 Cop A and Ex-Boyfriend Cop spend the entire chapter figuring out what went wrong in their relationship and it’s revealed that Cop A cheated.  Chapter 12 Cop A hooks up with different guy.  Chapter 13 Cop A and partner run down a third lead.  Chapter 14 Cop A and partner return to lead from Chapter 4 and investigate a little further (for the record, I had it figured out by this point and thankfully, it was not the suspect from Chapter 4, whom she slept with).  Chapter 15 Cop A and Ex-Boyfriend Cop have another heart to heart that leaves them naked in bed.  Chapter 16 Cop A and partner run into Ex-Boyfriend Cop who appears to be working a similar case.  Chapter 17 Cop A goes out for a jog and finds another dead body.  Chapter 18 Cop A is distraught over finding the dead body and Ex-Boyfriend Cop comes over to comfort Cop A without any of their clothing on.  Chapter 19 Cop A and Partner have huge fight over new evidence.  Chapter 20 Task force assembled to deal with serial killer. Chapter 21 Task force goes out to bar to discuss case over drinks in a public place.  Chapter 22 Cop A wakes up in bed with Partner.  Chapter 23 Cop A spends chapter avoiding partner.  Chapter 24 Cop A and Partner finally talk and Cop A admits she’s pregnant, now however, she is unsure of the father… Could be Ex-Boyfriend Cop or Guy She Slept with While Dating Ex-Boyfriend Cop.  Chapter 25 Task force realizes they have missed a crucial piece of evidence given in Chapter 4.  Chapter 26 Cop A and Partner go to Partner’s house to discuss her resigning from Task Force, end up in bed together.  Chapter 27 Manhunt begins for Ex-Boyfriend Cop, who is serial killer (lead in chapter 4 – DNA that led them to Ex-Boyfriend Cop’s brother… Yep, she had sex with his brother in Chapter 5) Chapter 28 Cop A and Partner decide to start dating.  Chapter 29 Cop A is kidnapped by Ex-Boyfriend Cop.  Guy she cheated on him with is revealed to be her ex-partner, who was murdered before this book started, by Ex-Boyfriend Cop.  Chapter 30 Partner and Task Force rescue Cop A.  Chapter 31 Cop A and Partner have sex again, then she starts to bleed.  Chapter 32 Cop A miscarries.  Chapter 33 Partner asks Cop A to marry him, Cop A agrees.  Chapter 34 Cop A goes to visit Ex-Boyfriend Cop in jail.  They have sex.  Chapter 35 Cop A tells Partner/Fiance about having sex with Ex-Boyfriend, Partner/Fiance forgives her and they have sex.  Chapter 36 Ex-Boyfriend Cop is murdered in jail.  Chapter 37 Cop A tries to figure out who murdered Ex-Boyfriend Cop, sleeps with jail house informant to get information.  Chapter 38 Cop A tells Partner/Fiance about it, he tells her to do what she has to do for the job.  Chapter 39 The Plot Twist – Ex-Boyfriend Cop’s father is the serial killer and he framed his son because he was in love with Cop A.  Chapter 40 Arrest Ex-Boyfriend Cop’s father for serial murder.  Chapter 41 Cop A and Partner/Fiance have sex and then go to work to start a new case.

My issues with the book:

  • Familial DNA is discovered in Chapter 4, DNA is on file because Ex-Boyfriend Cop’s brother is an ex-con.  However, they never test Ex-Boyfriend Cop or anyone else in the family, they just assume that since it isn’t Ex-Boyfriend Cop’s brother, it has to be Ex-Boyfriend Cop’s.  They also don’t make this leap of logic until Chapter 27.  It makes the police look very inept that they can get DNA testing in a day, but can’t figure out who to DNA test after finding a familial match.
  • There are 12 chapters dedicated to sex.  I’m not talking a paragraph of it.  I’m talking down and dirty he thrust his throbbing member deep into my love tunnel as he sucked on my hard, aching nipples and his hand teased my clit for the majority of those 12 chapters.  Even when they are just discussing her infidelity, she gets graphic.  I don’t know a single man on the planet that wants the gory details of how his girl felt and how she was touched and how she touched the other guy when she’s talking about her affair.  Her confession to her partner/fiance regarding the table sex with her Ex-Boyfriend Cop was 17 paragraphs long and included words like thrusting, cock, and quivering.
  • Cop A has some self esteem issues since she slept with 6 different men in the space of days.  Not to mention the ones she confessed to but had slept with at an earlier time.  Time seemed to pass only because she needed to shower and wait a day to have sex with someone else.
  • There is no motive given to any of the murders (which are of women) other than the father did it.
  • Ex-Boyfriend Cop confesses to murdering her former partner over the affair, but it later said that his father did it.  There is no explanation as to why EBC confessed.
  • Jailhouse snitch did not give her any information despite sleeping with him.  His only contribution to the actual plot was to tell her that it was a hired job.  He doesn’t even say who did it, she just guesses correctly and finds a money trail that leads to EBC’s father.
  • In Chapter 4, EBC’s brother says his father misses Cop A and has been acting strange since their mother disappeared two weeks earlier.  That is the only time he is mentioned until the very end.  The disappearance of the mother is never brought up again.  EBC nor his brother seem to think it’s strange that she’s missing.  So, the cops not only do not investigate the disappearance (despite EBC being her son and a cop), but they don’t investigate the strange acting father whose wife went missing just before the murders started, even with the familial DNA match.
  • The familial DNA match is never actually matched to a person.  It is assumed to be EBC’s.  Then once he is murdered by his father in prison, it is assumed to be EBC’s Father.  They also don’t mention the mother’s disappearance when they “correctly guess” that EBC’s Father is the real killer.
  • There was no explanation of why EBC kidnaps Cop A.
  • Finally, the only other two suspects they look at are pedophiles, but the murder victims are adult women, making that incredibly unlikely.

So, I made my comments, sent it back to the author and got this as a reply:

You are a bitch who just can’t stand when someone else writes a better book than you.  None of my other readers brought these up, so they must not be real issues.  Why are you threatened by a woman expressing her sexuality?  You wouldn’t care if it was a guy sleeping with every woman in the book.  Do you know anything about how DNA works?  You can get familial matches.  They’ve caught other criminals this way.  You’re a cunt for trying to make me doubt my book and writing skills.  I hope you burn in hell.

Actually, I would care if a guy bed hopped like this woman did.  I find it exceptionally irritating that a writer would have a cop sleeping with people who could be suspects in a murder they are investigating.

My advice from one author to another: If you don’t want an honest opinion, don’t ask a writer to give one.  Especially me.  I can only sugar coat so many things and this book was well beyond the limits of what I could sugar coat.



Leave a comment

1 Comment

  1. Free Advice! Good advice for $5!

     /  June 30, 2016

    The sad part is, if she markets it as a romance book, she will probably make money on it. From what you describe, I wouldn’t even give it a second look. It sounds awful.

    Maybe you need to start “interviewing” people before you agree to beta read. Questions like “what is your reaction to honest criticism? Describe a time when a reviewer panned your book.” of course, people will lie about their reactions but even then, you might get a hint about how they will truly react. People’s lies can also be telling. If they tell you that everybody has loved their book, you know they are lying 🙂

    Liked by 1 person


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