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Thursday, March 19, 2009

Random Word of the Day: Patchouli

On the submission front: Fairy Kingdom was rejected from Flash Fiction Online. It took them until almost the max day to do it, so I was disappointed because I thought it might be accepted, since it was taking them so long. The next candidate after that was supposed to be "Postcards From..." but when I looked them up, their blog had been deleted. Then I looked up 365 Tomorrows, but then I discovered it was non-paying, so that got sent to the bottom of the stack. Next it will be going to Electric Spec.

One thing I forgot to mention in the last update that, when I was shopping for books, I almost picked up The Forever War and Starship Troopers. My thinking was that these are classic, must-read sci-fi books on everyone's list, and I'm a bad writer for not reading them. Plus the pile in my hand was skimpy (one book). Then I thought, well, I shouldn't be picking up books and reading them just for the sake of reading them. I'm not really interested in war stories - the only ones I've read are the Old Man's War novels and World War Z. And I don't plan to write anything about war. I didn't grow up in wartime, so it's a distant subject for me, although it should be learned about.

I'm done revising the first drafts of Kaiju Story and Old Dragonslayer Story. For "dragonslayer", I'm going to try using Critique Circle, and see how it is, if it's better than Critters. So far the interface is much better, but its really about the feedback. It looks like most of the stories are much shorter than typical Critters fare, but it doesn't look like the quality is any better. The one story I critiqued so far sounded like it was half-written by Stephen King, half-written by a nine-year-old.

Also, these two being done mean I'm getting close to having to compose again - straight writing on a blank page. It's a little scary, because I haven't done it for a while. I look at all the great little ideas that I've had in previous stories, and wonder if I can come up with those again - the bits of spice that make my stories flavorful.

Lastly, Black Hole Son is starting to come back from the initial RFDR's. Well, one person's sent it back, and I haven't even opened it yet.

Here's a strange story. I got a proposition for RFDR from some guy who had an eccentric writing style, talking about things that had no relevance to the request. Very European style. He had a website, so I checked it out. I guess he's from Spain, but he's had some books published so I thought, "all right, I could get critiqued by a real author". Then we're trading e-mails back and forth. He won't start anything until he sends me a sample so I can tell if I like his "writing style". Writing style doesn't matter when you're critiqueing. Critiqueing's all about wading through shit. It doesn't matter whether I like it or not, I signed up for it. But I gotta wait till he's back from Kuwait to send me something.

So he finally does, and it's pretty horrible - long paragraphs, no dialogue, no characterization, and it's a prologue of all things. It's not even science-fiction. I can't believe this guy's been published. But it doesn't matter. A critique's a critique. So I send him what I think, and it's basically a less-heavy critique then I usually give for something of this stinkitude. But I tell him I want him to send me a chapter at a time and revise it first, because he obviously sent me a rough draft, and I think only one chapter at a time would be all I could take.

But it's a fair critique and I say I want to do it. What does he do? He says that "judging by your response, I can see you don't like my writing style and this would not be a good fit". First of all, I'm not getting into bed with you, we're critiquing novels. Second, it doesn't matter whether I like your writing style, it matters whether the publisher likes it. And no publisher is going to like it unless you follow the very basic rule/guidelines I told him. I'm not reading it for enjoyment, I'm reading it to analyze and improve it. Some people are weird.
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