Clearly I have a nasty reputation for being much nicer than I actually am. I’m a reader for an agent, so I give her my report of the queries, manuscripts and submissions that I read, rather than interacting directly with the authors. So the good news is that I don’t really have to be polite, because the agent really just wants the bottom line. Should she request more to read? If so: why? If not: why not? I don’t have to pretty it up for her. I don’t have to be nice. And I definitely don’t have to be polite.
So basically, I impolitely declined both. Some of the key phrases I used included: poorly written, nothing to recommend it, no real tension or reason to keep reading, one big cliche… Get it? I was not polite. But, had I been speaking directly to the author it would have been a totally different situation. I would choose my words carefully, because my intention would be to say something which would make a difference to the author’s work on the manuscripts. When it comes to critiquing other people’s work, what comes out of my mouth (or onto the paper or the computer screen) usually comes out with intention. I’m naturally caustic, so I have to tone myself down. It’s why I’m better at writing than speaking extemporaneously. Writing gives me time to think before blabbing and secures that nasty reputation I have for being much nicer than I actually am.