General Etiquette > Life...in general

Proofreader, Only Not Really (Small update P.25)

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Margo:

--- Quote from: Roe on February 06, 2013, 08:50:24 AM ---Since she's sensitive and I assume, you want to remain friends, have you tried "I don't know, what should the character say next? I don't know, what do you think the plot should be?" and etc, etc. Just turn the questions back on her.

--- End quote ---

I think this is a good way to start. She may then get on with it herself, if she keeps coming back then I think I would go with "I think we misunderstood each other. When you asked me to help you, I thought you wanted someone to proof-read. It seems like you were thinking more along the lines of co-writing the story. I'm afraid I don't have time to do that. I'm still happy to proof read your story for you when you're done, if you'd like me  too, and I'm sorry for the misunderstanding"

I think if you frame it as a joint mis-communication, rather than her demanding a lot more than you originally agreed to, it's less likely to put her onto the defensive and also less likely to be perceived as you changing your mind or 'dumping' her. It also gives you the opportunity to set out what you *can* do and hopefully put the focus more on "this is what I can do to help you" rather than "I'm refusing to dop x, y & z"

(To be clear, I think your position is totally reasonable, but am trying to come up with ways of saying it that are less likely to hurt her feelings)

Lynn2000:
I like turning the questions back on her, and also the suggestion to make an outline and/or summary of the plot before trying to write more. Especially with the latter you are helping her by giving her advice she might not have thought of, which should seem positive to her.

It's possible she might actually be wanting editorial advice in terms of, "This dialogue isn't clear, this plot twist doesn't make sense, the pace drags in this part," and she's just asking for it the wrong way. Sometimes we have the same problem at work with new people who've never written a big report before. They say, "I don't know what to write. I don't know what to say for this part." But, they have to write something, even if they think it's wrong/not good, and then more experienced people can help them shape it. But if they literally have just a blank page, there's nothing anyone else can do to help them, because we aren't going to write it for them. So maybe encourage her to write something, anything, thinking of it as a very rough draft, and then you can advise her on refining it (if you're willing to do that).

In a similar vein you could also give her a schedule of your availability--you said she only seems to write when you get online. Maybe tell her that you don't have time to help her in the morning (blocking her from seeing when you're online would be good) but if she sends you at least two pages before 7pm, you will proof them and send them back to her by the next morning (or whatever times work for you). In other words, you want something in hand to work with, not a line-by-line, real-time creation.

I'm wondering what would happen if you suggested a completely outlandish turn of the plot the next time she asks. Would she accept it, or would she say, "No, that's not really what I had in mind"? If the latter, you could then say, "Oh. Well, what did you have in mind, then?" I don't mean this suggestion in an evil way to mess her up, just that it might jolt her into thinking ahead a bit more, and realizing that if she wants the story done her way, she has to write it.

CrochetFanatic:
Thanks for the ideas.  :)

Last night, I didn't have a lot of time to post here.  I didn't give a whole lot of details about the situation, so for the most part I didn't say what I've already tried.  Unfortunately, I've tried a lot of what was suggested, and it went right over her head.

1.  I said upfront when she asked me that I could only be a proofreader, because in the past I ended up doing this on a smaller scale.  I've told her in the past, "I'll look at what you've already written, but you have to write it yourself."  And I've gotten this in response, "._." along with chilly and stilted conversations for a few days after that.  This time, I resolved not to be in that position again, and this time she said, "Okay" easily enough.  Then she proceeded to act as if I hadn't spoken, and I'm partially responsible because I caved and went back on what I said.  :-[

2.  I've told her when I was and wasn't available, and I've told her when I was working on something else at the moment.  She waits until I am available, and continues with her questions.

3.  I've tried turning her questions back on her, "What do you think should happen?" or saying, "That's up to you." and she'll say, "I don't know, that's why I need help."

I'm just running out of things to tell her, short of "I don't want to."  And I'll admit I was a little miffed when she didn't even include an Author's Note with "Thanks for your help".  I don't want to make it sound like I'm out to get credit, but when someone has helped me with a project in the past or let me borrow their character for a bit, I've always given them a shout-out. 

Anyway, these are all good ideas, but unfortunately they don't seem to be working.  I think I might just have to start repeating myself, and saying, "I'll look at what you've got typed up, if you have something, but you'll have to come up with the material yourself."  She'll be cold, and I feel bad about it, but I don't see any other way to handle it.

Thanks again.  At least now I don't feel so unreasonable in saying no.

Promise:
It's time to just be honest regardless of her sensitivities. Why do we excuse being sensitive as if that's ok to let them use us? Tell her the truth. Just say, "I originally thought I'd be editing after the fact, but that's not what happened. Instead, you've been asking me for a lot of help with the actual plotting and writing of the book. If you want me to be co-author and give me credit for that, I'd be happy to continue helping for our mutual benefit. But if not, I think it would be best to find someone else to assist you."

NyaChan:

--- Quote from: pinkiu on February 06, 2013, 02:21:58 PM ---It's time to just be honest regardless of her sensitivities. Why do we excuse being sensitive as if that's ok to let them use us? Tell her the truth. Just say, "I originally thought I'd be editing after the fact, but that's not what happened. Instead, you've been asking me for a lot of help with the actual plotting and writing of the book. If you want me to be co-author and give me credit for that, I'd be happy to continue helping for our mutual benefit. But if not, I think it would be best to find someone else to assist you."

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This. 

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