Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Blogging Interupted

I had planned to answer another question on Wednesday with a vlog. I recorded said vlog several times over the course of an hour. When I listened to the final version, I discovered the microphone on my computer kept coming in and out. Phooey!

I promise to have the vlog up on Friday on how to deal with rejection. Indulge me in a rant instead? This is how I don't deal with rejection well.

I worked really hard to reach the top ten on YouWriteOn.Com. That meant reading several painful entries (There were some excellent ones too, thank goodness) to earn the credits I needed to get reviews. I read each review I received and deliberated on what to glean and use in my edits.

Last week I reached the top ten. I was flying high with the knowledge I just needed to stay there until the end of the month so I could get a critique from Random House or Penguin. All of the reviews were helpful and the ratings fair--until Sunday.

One review dropped me from #8 to #19! I hurried over to read the review. It was book length, and if helpful, would have been great. Her nit picks boiled down to this (her comments in blue):
  • Put the action/character tag before all you dialogue so I know who's talking.
  • Comma issues--ex >The tunnel glowed red-orange illuminating their deaths. < Needs a comma after orange. Um, really? Why? Am I wrong in thinking that's not right? If she's right, can someone tell me why?
  • Suggestions that didn't make sense-->“Lights.” Talia flinched as the lights flared on. < Another small moment of confusion. I didn’t understand at first why she said ‘lights’. I really thought for a second that someone else said it. Suggestion, “Lights,” Talia said, then flinched as they flared on. I think this would keep down the momentary confusion. Does adding the word "said" really make a difference? No one else is in the room, so I don't know why its confusing. I could be wrong. Plus, she just woke from a dream, where the reader knows she's dreaming because Talia knows she's dreaming. I don't see why this is so confusing. When you wake from a nightmare what's the first thing you do? Turn on the lights!
  • The other comments boil down to she wants more back story in the first chapter so she knows what's going on and what's about to happen. ????? Spoon feeding?????
  • She doesn't want me to use sunsrise. Tough. We are on a different planet. One with two suns. They would never say sunrise.
  • I did agree with one comment: <A sigh escaped her lips.> Where else is a sigh going to escape from if not the mouth or lips? And have changed it accordingly in the MS.

Maybe she's right and I'm letting my disappointment at the huge drop cloud my judgement. By Monday I decided not to worry about it. If I received three more reviews I could delete hers. The 15 other reviews I had were all good, while still being helpful by pointing out spots I could fix.

Then I got another review lower than the above! First her positive comment (which baffles me in light of her rating):
I thought your sentence structuring and dialogue were generally very good and pushed the flow of the story along well.
She was confused about a few things. This was the one I thought the most entertaining: Also I was unsure of Talia's age. You mention twenty eight years of dreams, but this is quite a way into the story. Is this how old she is? Yes, twenty-eight years of dreams means she is at least twenty-eight years old.

Then there is this gem: The scene where she looks in the mirror before smashing it, could be an opportunity for the reader to get a picture of her.

Now, I know that's a no no.

Check out some sites:
How to avoid cliches in fantasy writing--"One fantasy cliche is a lump, detailed description of a character, such as a princess staring at herself in a mirror and describing each feature one-by-one. Work attributes into the story naturally, such as a comment about a feature from another character."
Avoiding Beginner Blunders--"Okay," you think, "the reader needs to know what my character looks like, so I'll have him look in a mirror, and describe what he sees." Or: "Well, if two of my characters tell each other what the reader needs to know, then that's showing because it's dialogue, not exposition."

Chazley's Blog--agented author

And bunches more, but I'm really tired and it's way past my bedtime.

Needless to say, my shot at getting a publisher to critique my story this month is shot to pieces. It's one of those moments when I want to say hand it all!

I guess the good news is that I worked more on my pitch for an upcoming conference and my synopsis so I can send out three more queries this week.

I won't be wasting my writing or family time trying to win the lottery on a website any more. Hard work will get it done much faster.


  1. I can see why you're upset, Charity. Quite a few of those statements seemed to have been made by people who didn't really know what they were talking about in that aspect.

    Though, uh, cough, pretty sure she's right about the comma. You stated a new verb for 'the tunnel' and as such it could be split into two sentences. (The tunnel glowed red-orange. The tunnel was illuminating their deaths.) Think of it like you simply added a clause (though technically it's not a clause because there's no noun or pronoun to use as the subject).

    Say you worked it backwards, combining them with a simple semicolon. (The tunnel glowed red-orange; it was illuminating their deaths.) But of course, being the awesome writer you are, you want to make it read more smoothly and cut down on word count so you change it to what you have, downgrading the semicolon to a comma because you no longer have a complete second sentence.

    I have the feeling I explained that completely wrong. But trust me, there should indeed be a comma. (sorry)

  2. Forgive my swearing but Jesus Christ you got an asshole that critiqued you. What a nitpicky piece of crap...I HATE people that pick apart stuff like that. Who CARES!!! People get published all the time with writing like that. She's a moron and has publishing on some weird unattainable pedestal that the snootiest most hoity toity professors of English Literature stand next to and worship. Keep in mind that these same professors can only get published through their university and they sell twenty books a semester because they force their students to buy them for the curriculum. What a bunch of rubbish. You got screwed, Charity. And that's my "humble" opinion.

  3. I'm so sorry to hear you got such negative feedback, Charity. Having read the first few chapters of Sendek myself, I totally disagree with the backstory comment - the lack of that backstory made the beginning intriguing, because I wanted to find out not only what was going to happen, but what had happened in the past.

    In terms of the comma, I would put a comma there for readability but I'm a comma freak - I think you can argue it either way.

    The "Lights" sentence reads fine. I can remember liking it when I read it first time around.

    I'm a little bit worried about your mirror quotes though - for me, not you. I use this technique in my opening chapter. I think it fits with the piece, but I'd hate my writing to be seen as cliched. Eek! I'll see what my beta readers say about it...

    Please don't let this setback get you down. You're a fantastic writer and blogger - I always look forward to reading your posts. Looking forward to watching your vlog later this week! :-)

  4. I'm so sorry this happened to you. Would have loved to see you in the top ten. I really don't like to get poor critiques that aren't useful.

  5. So far the general consensus is the comma thing is correct. I think I'll do comma research for a blog post. Obviously, I need it. :)

    Brooke, don't be sorry! As I wrote last night, I thought, "I guess if 'illuminating their deaths' is a clause then it probably needs a comma? I just couldn't figure it out in the cloud I was in. That's why I asked all you people that are smarter than me. ;) Anyway, I was REALLY tired last night--which didn't help.

    What you wrote makes sense, so thank you!

    Thanks Cally, that means a lot. Most people say to sprinkle the back story in sparingly, and I actually took out TONS of back story to make the novel more marketable. Just makes me laugh now that I've had some sleep. I'll try to find some more links for you so you can see what agents are saying about mirrors, but its right up there with the "waking up" scene. Which I also do. *headdesk* LOL, but I tweaked it to hopefully make it more acceptable.

    Hopefully today will be a better recording day. :) I'll actually shower and fix my hair. It was scary in the other video and you can see the bags under my eye because I was so tired. I would have posted it anyway, but the sound was shoddy.

    Thanks Miranda. I feel better now that I've vented. As I said, hard work will still get it done. Not that all those critiques weren't hard, but you know what I mean. :)

  6. Michael, thanks for making me smile this morning. Screwed and robbed, but having a better day today.

  7. Just want to say I'm with you about spoon feeding readers. Specifically, NOT. I hate it as a reader and I'm not going to do it myself.

    Thanks for posting about YouWriteOn.com -- sounds like it's mostly good with the occasional oddball. I've been debating whether to join.

  8. That first one is just personal preference. And if your character is the only one in the room, who else said "Lights?" The comma made sense though.
    Is there a way you can work yourself back into the top ten?

  9. It's a great book. I'm sorry those comments knocked you out of the top ten. Were they paying attention? I mean, "sunsrise" makes total sense when you're talking about two suns. Geez.

    And there's enough backstory in the beginning to get the feel of what's happening.

  10. L, thank you! I agree wholeheartedly. Most of my experience with YouWriteOn has been good. I've received some very helpful critiques. This one just irked me, and caused me to rethink how I use the site.

    Alex, sadly, not this month. I might just delete the entry and start all over. That would have a better chance of making it to the top ten. I think I'm just frustrated that a system that seemed perfect just slapped me in the face. LOL. I'm going to concentrate on getting my pitch ready for the conference I'm attending in October.

    Plus, I've sketched out a few more scenes I want to add, and I've started wondering if I need more setting. I cut a lot because people said it slowed the story down. I love writing the setting and tend to get carried away. :) That's why I thought it funny she said she couldn't see where we were. I guess I did cut a bit too much. I just thought people liked to have a little imaginary freedom when envisioning things.

    I'm kicking myself for letting this bug me so much. It must be that time of the month. Sorry for the TMI.

    Thanks Liz. Why do we torture ourselves this way? I know you would have told me if the story was really bad, so I'm glad I had some great betas before this.

  11. I know that feeling well. I hope you get nothing but useful commentary from now on. I had one review on YWO that was actually a bunch of garbage characters, unintelligible. Parts of sentences were there, and I could tell it was a bad review. It came with two stars in every category, but I didn't know why. Luckily YWO agreed to pull it because it was useless. I don't mind negative critiques, as long as they make sense.

    As for rank on the charts, it was a weird week at YouWriteOn. Both of my books slipped six or more places without any new reviews to cause that. I think we had a glut of new books come into the top ten as they got their first eight reviews. Or something. At any rate, I noticed that many books slipped with me -- we seemed to be travelling as a group.

    Hope you top the charts again soon! I'm trying with all my might not to hope in that direction. It will drive me mad. I tell myself (quite rightly) that I'm only there for the feedback, which is generally invaluable. But, yeah, I keep checking my spot on the charts. ;)


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