February 8th, 2008

It's not called a long story.

It's not called a long story.

Oh, trust me, I do it too--someone recently pointed out that I wasted 100 words at the beginning of Castle of Masks, and they were right, so I baleeted it. I hope people continue to tell me when they find flabby prose. Snip snip!

There's a finite amount of space in a short story. Most markets seem to want something like 6,000 for a very fat submission. Some places will stretch it to 8,000 or 10,000, but they're rebels! And yet I keep finding people who are willing to waste several hundred (or even thousands of) words to tell me something as simple as, "This woman is standing on a hill," or "There's a war in this country." If there are other things simultaneously woven into the scene of the woman climbing a hill, that's fine and dandy, but if I read about her walking to the top of the hill and then the story starts, we have issues. Chiefly, the issue of me telling you to knock it off and then hitting the little "X" on the story's tab and moving on to something different. I just read an almost-amazing story (Hi, G!) which made that mistake, and even though I wanted to read more because the writing was so good, I was too grumpy.

GRUMPY.

This post brought to you by a red pen and too much time spent in the Water Cooler and OWW.
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And now for something completely sappy. Well, almost.

I just wrote the harshest review of someone else's story I think I've ever given, and while I'm terrified that I've discouraged the author, I'm very grateful that I understand what she did wrong, and not only that, but I have the skills to explain the errors and offer solutions. I have our awesome crit group to thank.

Recently someone posted on my f-list (I can't find it now, so maybe it wasn't so recent) about how much they love their critique partners. I figured I'd tell you why mine are so valuable to me:

criada has a mind that can create and track an entire planet. Plenty of fantasy authors think they can do that, but few really can. If I ever need help with political intrigue, world economics, religion, or other incredibly complex elements, she has much to offer.

kehrli is like a special robot built to absorb inconsistencies and spit out solutions. What else would you expect from a disciple of science but a keen sense of logic and a highly tuned suspension-of-disbeliefometer?

kaerfel understands the structure of an effective story better than anyone else who has dissected my work. I've learned alot about manipulating a reader's mind from her, despite the fact that she might be one of the most guileless people I know.

tlcadence has gifts for visceral description and instant characterization, two talents I lust after. She's the member of our group who writes the least SF, and her unique perspective is invaluable in separating universally appealing themes from genre specific ones.

When rith26's fat ass shows up, he's pretty funny. I don't know if he gives good critique, SINCE HIS FAT ASS NEVER SHOWS UP. :)