My brother's a writer, too. He gave me his newest manuscript to read in rough draft form, because he needs help with plot holes, so he says. What he really needs help with and doesn't even realize it, or maybe he does, is insecurity. I wasn't going to tell him I'd started reading it, but then he called and was like, "What's up?" What can I say under that kind of grilling? :)
The thing is about my bro is that even though he's been writing for 20 years, he's never seriously pursued publication. This is something I didn't know about him. There were years at a time when we didn't speak directly to each other, so until we started talking all the time a couple of years ago, I'd always assumed he was learning the same things I was. After all, he's much more prolific than me. His stories come out fully-formed, and his edits consist of tweaking the language. It's incredible how far he's come with minimal study and no contact at all with other writers except me and our mother, just from writing his ass off. He has a natural gift which can't be denied. And here is where I waffle on whether to include a sample of his work without his permission. Just a small one. No? *sigh* Okay.
His craft is ready, but he's having trouble getting past the insecurity, as most of us do. And maybe he isn't capable yet, because he knows nothing about the business end. But that's where Big Sis comes in. I have a fair working knowledge of the submission process, having successfully navigated it myself. Also of the critique process, having successfully landed an editing job. The first critique I gave him was his first real crit ever, but I didn't know that at the time. He confessed to feeling like I'd punched him in the gut while reading that first crit, but in a good way. He never knew what it was really about, that whole "getting a second opinion" thing. He did sub that story on my insistence--again, his first time--but ran out of steam after only a few rejections. I think when things settle down for him in the next few months he'll start actively submitting his first novel to agents. And I have no doubt he'll do well.
Any ideas how to encourage such a writer?