Guest Post: Mark S. Moore Talks the Many Types of Readers and How You Can Deal With Them

7:30 AM

A couple of months ago, I read the fantastic debut novel Rise by Mark S. Moore. You can read my full review here. Since then the novel has been at the back of my mind. Because of this, I knew I had to give the author a platform and ask him to do a guest post for Booked J.

Special thank-you to Mark S. Moore for agreeing to stop by and discuss the different types of readers with us today. This was truly a fascinating topic choice and I love diving into the many archetypes of readers and reviewers. (And mostly anything in life, given how analytical I am.)

I want to begin by thanking Booked J for giving me the opportunity to write a guest post on their excellent blog. I ran through a variety of topics but I landed on this one because I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about it since the launch of my debut novel. From plotting to publishing, there have been so many people who have helped and hurt a long the way and I want to share what I’ve learned.
I’ve had experience with all of these readers, both pre and post publishing my book. The thoughts here are based on my reactions to them which relies heavily on my personality to form my opinions.
All of these are as they relate to writing, but I think you can apply it to any endeavor you undertake which will be consumed by the public. Artistic, Athletic, Academic, Work…etc.
I’ve laid out three separate groups and I like to think of them a bit like a bell curve in terms of what groups help the most. This is a post about writing, though, and I’m terrible at math so let’s leave it at that.

These types of readers are poison to your project. They come in two flavors and both are equally devastating to a project but for different reasons.

Who: This one is probably obvious to most of you. This is the person who is unerringly negative. They despise everything about your work. They seem to take joy in tearing it apart. Attacks may even become personal. They may be grounded in nothing more than personal contempt or outright vitriol. These people can be more common than one might expect. There are many people that will bolster their own sense of self-worth only through the destruction of others rather than the enrichment of their own endeavors.
Why: These types of readers will affect writers differently. For fledgling writers, they can be particularly devastating. I remember my first interaction with one such reader. It made me question whether I had any talent at all, if I was wasting my time. They attack at the very core of why you write – to share your work with others. To be rebuffed at nascent stages where your perspective is warped by every review can be dangerous to your willingness to continue.
How to Deal with it: Really concentrate on where the viciousness comes from. Have they provided you with any guidance or are they just being mean? This type of person is digging out from beneath others to raise their podium. If you can identify that as their goal, its easier to dismiss them.  

Who: This one might not be as apparent. Think of The Lover as the wolf in sheep’s clothes. The intention is wholly different, but the outcome is still deadly. These are people who are scared to say anything negative at all for one reason or another. Perhaps this is someone close to you. Perhaps it’s a stranger, but a deeply empathetic one who’s scared of hurting anyone’s feelings (yes, they exist.) It could be someone who finds the positive in anything and everyone.
Why: Their words may sound honey sweet compared to the bitterness of The Hater but they can still warp your thought process in the same way. There is no piece of writing, not a 1st draft or a published and re-published classic, that is perfect. To assume your work may be different is folly. To listen to someone tell you it is and internalize that is deadly.
How to Deal with it: Appreciate the kindness, but don’t read into it. If someone is elevating your work to untold heights, stay on the ground and let the praise roll off as easily as the venom. Keep a realistic view of your own writing and seek out more constructive readers.

The Overly Committed, just like The Deadly Ones, come in two camps. These readers can actually be helpful but may still twist your perception because they lean too far one way or the other.

Who: Think of this person as the personification of “but.” What I mean by that is they’re going to be the reader who goes through your paragraph, chapter, or the entire book and has a “but” for every part of it. They’re going to be the kind of person who sees more negative than positive and will want to change much more than you’re comfortable with. This person does normally come from a good place, but they may have an inflated idea of their own opinions. We all know this person, some of us may know many of them.
Why: This person can be helpful. They can be very constructive, but they can also be damaging. The damage mostly comes in over-thinking. When your faced with suggestions for changes that overwhelm your story, you might create something that is no longer yours. They are more likely to focus so much on the negative that they ignore some of the great parts of your writing or even get you to inadvertently change them.
How to Deal with it: Try to take the constructive criticism out and absorb it. If this is another writer, read what they’ve written. Usually they won’t be coming from an emotional place, so try to keep your own emotions in check. Don’t allow the majority of their critique being negative deter you from continuing. Remember that everyone can improve. That means both yourself, and the person who is telling you everything wrong with your writing. Oh, and if you’re like me…go yell and scream about them then read their critique again and pick out the parts that help.

Who: Here we have the opposite of the Mostly Negative reader. Funny how that worked out…almost like I planned it. This person will likely be more common in the later stages of your drafts than the early ones. They’re going to be the type to gush over the things they love but still provide you with a hint of critique here and there.
Why: They can be great for your self-esteem, but they aren’t really going to make your writing that much better. They’re likely going to miss a lot of the things you’ve done poorly because they’re overly focused on what you’ve done well.
How to Deal with it: Keep yourself grounded. Pull out the kernels they give you of critique and build from there. Allow the positivity to bolster your resolve to write but don’t let it stop your editing and re-working.

These are the types of people that are difficult to find. They’re the ones who strike a balance between the positive and negative. These, above all else, are the readers who will make your writing and your story better. I’m going to change up the format here a little bit from the first sets. Hang with me, lets get crazy.

This is the kind of person who looks past technical issues to find the heart of the story. They will point out where things work, and where they don’t. This takes a special kind of person because they not only have to understand and interpret what you, the author, are trying to say but also what they, the reader, are reading and understanding.

We all need this person. They may ignore most of your deeper points but they’re going to find every single one of those damn comma splices. Straight to the point, no frills, they just fix your grade school grammar issues 100x better than spellcheck or Grammarly.

This is the ultimate helper. They have traits from all of the people mentioned above and they meld them together in a coherent and usable critique that you can appreciate and use. There’s no need to check your emotions with these people because their honesty and even-handed approach encourages you to make changes and when you do, more often than not, you personally like them. These people are rare, and I am forever grateful to the few of them I found to help me complete my book.

You’re going to encounter a lot of different personalities and it is important to have a strong foundation before you open yourself up to criticism.  
Be just as wary of over-the-top praise as you are negativity.

Many author’s sites are written in third person. Especially the “about me” sections, like this one. I’ll admit that is where I started. I wrote out everything in third person but I quickly realized that wasn’t me. That wasn’t my voice. That’s not who I am as an author or a person. I came off a bit like a pretentious asshole. Have you ever written about yourself in third person? Try it.

I first began writing when, sitting in the counselor’s office in high school, I realized I didn’t like the ending of a Dragonlance novel. I’ve long since forgotten what book it was but it was likely something by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman. It wasn’t that the ending was bad, it was that it ended at all. I wanted more. I remember similar feelings earlier in my life when I read Harry Potter. I wanted to know about the next generation, I wanted more stories. That is where my writing comes from, a love of reading.  

A love of reading isn’t enough to become a writer, though. I went on to study History and earn both a Bachelor’s and a Masters in the subject. Anyone who’s studied history knows just how closely linked it can be to fiction, to storytelling. History is the collection of narratives that we, as a people, have decided are important to be told over again for one reason or another. My flirtation with narrative grew into full-on infatuation by the time I entered the work-force in 2015.

My debut novel, Rise, was initially a passion project started in November of 2015. After some harsh criticism and a bit of soul-searching, I sought to hone my craft and make Rise into something more concrete. I joined a Writer’s group (, completed an Advanced Creative Writing course at Oxford University and dug my heels in. Through it all, I had support from family, friends, co-workers, even strangers. With any project there are going to be setbacks and moments of doubt, a tremendous support system pushes you forward when you’re ready to give up.

The first draft of Rise was finished in early 2016. Since then it has been shredded to pieces, finished, shredded again, definitely finished, shredded once more, absolutely finished, and then torn to pieces one more time before giving it up to the first-rate editing talents at JMR Professional Editing.

What Makes a Patriot? What makes a Traitor? You decide.

Mark S. Moore's debut novel follows the fledgling Ricchan rebellion. A dark and gritty tale of war, intrigue, and betrayal. Rise is driven by a diverse array of complex characters and moral consequence. Between muskets and firebrands, Damien Flynn finds himself in the midst of growing turmoil. Political espionage, assassinations, scandalous affairs, underhanded deals, and dirty politics threaten to plunge the known world into chaos. What makes a patriot? What makes a traitor? Decide for yourself.

Support Mark S. Moore and Buy Rise

You Might Also Like