Well, What Do You Think Of My Novel?

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At some point you’ll want to ask “someone” to read your novel while it is still in manuscript. This might be your partner or a friend who loves to read, or one of those strangers in your writing class.

When that time comes, I want you to recall the exchange between Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald when Hemingway asked F. Scott to read his first novel, The Sun Also Rises.

Fitzgerald did, and then wrote a letter to Ernie. This was in 1926. Fitzgerald suggested to Hemingway that he drop the first two chapters, characterizing the novel’s opening as “careless and ineffectual.”

Fitzgerald then went on to write in his letter to Hemingway: “About this time, I can hear you say, ‘Jesus this guy thinks I’m lousy, & he can stick it up his ass for all I give a Gd Dm for his ‘criticism’. But remember this is a new departure for you, and I think your stuff is great. You were the first American I wanted to meet in Europe—and the last.”

We should all be fortunate enough to have a literary critic (and friends) like Fitzgerald, willing to tell us the truth about our writing. We’d all be better novelists if we were so lucky.

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