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Friday, June 15, 2007

The Politics of Critters

I have an interesting situation going on in the Critters critiques labels these days. Three weeks ago I got a fulfillment of a "Request for Dedicated Readers" (people who volunteer to read long works. It was accompanied with a suggestion to check out her Yahoo! Groups fantasy critique group. I looked at it, 10 members, and since I haven't written any fantasy, I mentally declined.
Well, over the course of the three weeks, I get three or four more e-mails suggesting I join. It's like spam. I think about telling her to stop sending me these things, but she's reading my long novel, and I haven't gotten many takers, so I think it would be best if I don't bite the hand that feeds. Besides, it's just a press of the key to remove it. Then two days ago, I get an e-mail from her saying "My Evaluation". Fantastic, I can't believe she's done so soon, it's too good to be true.
Well, natch.
The whole thing is 145 words long. A 145 word critique for a 153,000 word novel. The thing has half-written sentences, generic statements, no detail, and looks like it was written by a fourth grader. A dumb one. At minimum I should have gotten 6,000 words judging by the Critters rules. It was phrases like "This would be be good for a YA novel, or even a movie. The theme of this story is death. I like the description of University life. I think you should show more about how Jeremy and Jennika got out of the cult". It was unacceptable. It gave me absolutely no useful advice I could use in revisions. And there was no way I was giving this thirty credits, good for thirty free weeks without needing to read a shitty-written story about politics in space.
So I write her telling her this. I've already listed most of what I said but the first line was "Sorry, I refuse to give you credit for this evaluation." I also criticized her for wasting my time with her spam e-mails, and told her I intend to avoid any of her submissions in the future, and that it was shameful that she should treat a fellow writer this way.
Now I was expecting her to report me to the Critters admin, or fire back some sort of juvenile rant about how she read my story and expects to get credit. Or not to answer back at all, knowing she cheaped out.
No, she says her evaluation techniques aren't great. And asks for tips on lengthening her critiques. Well, that was unexpected. Can't very well respond with a snarky comment then.
Well, what does one say to that? She sounds like she's 12. Is this really appropriate for her to be asking? This is an adult novel. Surely she knew what she was getting into. I'm not Paula Danziger or S.E. Hinton here. I dunno. Maybe I'll just point her to the zip file of critiques that are released weekly. But it's a peculiar situation. I'll keep you updated.
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