Monday, May 19, 2008

How to tell when your piece is done

I submitted "Death Rites" to a new place, as I seemed to have fallen through the cracks of the last editor. The funny thing about this new place is that they do a thing where you post your story on their forums and then people critique it. Then, essentially, you are given the chance to re-edit it and then once it's gotten loads of hype there's a good chance they'll publish it. This might be a good possibility if:

1) You were subject to the whims of the internets and all of the fallible people within;

2) People could actually agree on something in a story and didn't herd around like cats.

Cementing this theory were the two comments I received on the piece in this forum.

The first one was, "Adjit goes too quickly from being a thoughtless kid who risks death on a dare, to being the hero who gives his life to save his town. I just commented on another story that it includes too much introspection - IMO this one doesn't have enough.

I would make it clear earlier in the first scene that there are indeed supernatural forces at work." - from an editorial associate

The second: "Hi Marisol, neat tone of the story.

A few things:

I suggest merging first two paragraphs

This seems a little contradictory even though I understood it

**"“Don’t.” He stunned himself with his speech. “Please, don’t kill me.”

**The spirit paused. Adjit struggled to croak out more, to reason with the being, but no words escaped his dry throat."

I got a bit confused as to what was a Hija and a Godmarked and had to go back and figure out what he was doing.

You might consider removing about 10-20% of the overall length thus far.

I don't understand how he is able to kill all of the Hija attacking the city when he only had one death Spirit helping him? How did the horn help him do that? You might explain it but I missed it when I read the story.

You might also explain a bit more about the actual saving. Normally, avoiding 'the gory details' is sometimes fine but the description of the death rite earlier hardly makes avoiding describing what happens to the invading Hija.

Still a good solid start. :)"
- some random dude, I think

So, let's get this straight. I need to add in a ton of stuff but take out about 10-20% of the stuff... If it's all the same to these guys, I think I'll stick to the fact that the last editor I sent it to turned it down only due to lack of space. I'll take the editor's opinion over random people over the internet any day.

This is my complaint with any online sort of peer editing. Overall, it just doesn't work because you never know when you've got some dick in there throwing in random shit who doesn't know a comma from an apostrophe, and who thinks passive voice means a version of "to be" was used somewhere, anywhere, within the sentence. Or worse, a troll. So I tend to be highly skeptical of anyone's comments unless they come from one of my peer editors in the two writing groups I belong to, because I trust their judgment and I can also see where they're coming from in the case of possible potential bias.

Actually, my rule of thumb with stories is if no one can agree on something in the story, then it's right where it needs to be. I know that sounds slightly insane, but sometimes people are trying to be helpful and critique a story without really reading it, and minds can pick up goofy nits that they probably wouldn't have if they'd just read it for enjoyment. Mind you, I'm not talking about early editing or typos or big glaring boo-boos, but when you've got 5 people who have minor nits/complaints and none of them match, it's time to let'er rip.

Also, one other comment - you're going to give me helpful advice on my story and the first sentence that drops from your precious fingers is "neat tone of the story"? Come on, people. We're supposed to be writers! Aside from the grammar... "neat"? Shakespeare rolled over in his grave.

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