Letter to an Unnamed Writer

Dear Unnamed Writer

I recently downloaded some fiction. One of the pieces was something that you had written. I was attracted to it because it was a work of short fiction, and short stories are what I’m currently reading. Every so often I like to experiment with reading the work of writers I have yet to ‘meet’. I feel this is important to do: writers need unknown readers in order for their stories and abilities to be spread around. I’m afraid that I won’t be returning to your work though.

Your story was acceptable enough: I’m still thinking about it. I will admit though that, as a fellow writer, I wondered how I could write that story better. I won’t do that. That story is yours. If an indicator of a story’s worth could be said to be the way it lingers after the reading, and your story does linger a little, then that indicator has been met.

Your characters weren’t disagreeable (though I do have concerns when I read names I can’t easily pronounce). I sometimes give my own characters unusual names, but I will have to make sure that they’re agreeable in the light of what I’ve just written. Reading other writers’ awkwardly named characters only distracts me: it makes me want to keep checking that the vowels and consonants are in the same order every time the name comes up.

Your concept, written in your synopsis, drew me in. It played itself out well enough, though the ending was a little weak. You did repeat yourself in places, and I think you took a few liberties with points of view here and there — writers do sometimes need to be granted space to experiment from time to time though.

Despite all of this, however, I won’t be coming back to your words. You offered me a teaser chapter, for your novel, at the end of your story: I read this diligently but I won’t be buying your longer work. What can cause me to say all of this? Sometimes only minor things can trouble me in my reading. I can forgive experiments in writing here and there (I do it myself in my own writing from time to time), but it all breaks down when I lose faith in a writer. You see, if I’m lead to believe that you don’t know how to form a full sentence properly, in this case, I don’t want to read any more.

I won’t reproduce in public what it was I read of yours; I will create some examples instead:

The wind blew across the moor. Sideways into my face. With a long moan. In the dark. A wolf. Howling.

This bears no resemblance to your story, but can you feel this reader’s anxiety? It even troubles me to write such examples of malformed sentences as those ‘sentences’ above.

I fully accept that I may accidentally have written some malformed sentences in this letter here myself. In our defence — yours and mine — we are human and sometimes we can get tired; however, your errors lead me to lose faith. That’s a shame. I am sorry: I had hoped we could be friends. Your other readers may well disagree with me, but I bear you or them no malice.

Sincerely yours,

A reader (departed).

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