First Rejections

I received a rejection on Meteor Man last week. The editor wrote

I can appreciate the attention to detail in your world, but without knowing about the world or characters or what’s going on, the terminology bogs me down a bit too much.

The comment intrigued me because no first reader commented anything similar. Even first first readers – those unfamiliar with my work – didn’t make similar comments. I often gets comments about my world-building but they tend to be more like “Amazing!”, “Rich!”, “Vividly detailed!”, and “Immersive!” (one of my personal favorites).

When I do live readings of works-in-progress, I sometimes get a comment along the lines of “You do more world-building in ten pages than most authors do in the first hundred” and I should spread things out.

I ask in return, “Would you continue reading? Do you want to find out more?”

Unanimous yeses often accompanied by listeners leaning forward in their seats and sometimes by outstretched hands seeking a copy.

All of which tells me I did an excellent job world-building. If people were overwhelmed to the point of being numb, they’d back away rather than continue forward.

Two Recent Classes…
I’ve long suspected that storycrafting and storytelling aren’t the paramount reasons work is accepted or rejected.

Sadly, this was confirmed by two different classes I took over the past few weeks. The classes were from different sources and a little over a week apart. One class had an agent and a publisher, the other had two magazine editors.

I take such classes because I want to understand what got Story A accepted and Story B rejected. A con panel with editors explaining what stood out pro and con in stories from their slushpiles would be gold to me. I’d pay serious dollars to attend such a panel session.

Me, I look for common threads in everything from character to theme, action to plot, … Sometimes the common thread is obvious, other times…?

And always it comes down to “How come this and not that? Give me a list of what works and what doesn’t so I’ll have a better idea how to perfect my own work for publication.” (by the way, two books that do a great job of this are Barry Longyear’s “Science Fiction Writer’s Workshop – I: An Introduction to Fiction Mechanics” and On Writing Science Fiction: The Editors Strike Back).

Want to know what I found out?

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A Tale of Three Critique Groups

Be so confident in knowing what you bring to the table you’re willing to eat alone until you find the right table.

Warning: This is not going to be a happy post.

I’ve been in three critique groups from the end of 2020 to now. One I formed, two I was invited to join. There were two more I helped form and turned over to others (both are non-US based and there were timezone and language issues which made regular exchanges with them challenging).

Let me be blunt.

  • Most people calling themselves writers have no hope of becoming international bestselling authors.
  • Most people calling themselves authors have no hope of becoming anything more than self-published wannabes.
  • Most people in critique groups want a pat on the head, a hug, and a rousing cheer of “Good for you! You put words together!” and not a serious critique of their work with the goal of improving their craft.

Some people proudly tell me they never pay for online courses and only take the free ones.

“How long you been doing that?”

A few years now.

“You been taking courses for a few years and your work still sucks this much? Put your money on the table now, honey, otherwise your work ain’t going nowhere.”

(you may enjoy the complete “Can I Be Honest About Your Writing?” series starting with Can I be honest about your writing? (Part 1 – Oh, the Vanity of it all!). I also talk about what makes a good critique in my interview starting at about 1:35m in)

What Makes Writing Worth Reading? Continue reading “A Tale of Three Critique Groups”

Mark Hayes’ Passing Place: Location Relative

I read Hayes’ “The Strange and the Wonderful” in Harvey Duckman Presents V7 and was (am still) amazed by it (I reviewed it in Why It Works for Me – Mark Hayes’ “The Strange and the Wonderful”). I reached out to Hayes and learned “The Strange and the Wonderful” is part of the Passing Place mythos, so asked for an autographed copy of Passing Place.

It took a week to read the book because 1) I’m a slow reader and 2) I was savoring it. Passing Place is a fine meal, an elegant respite from the world’s chaos. I’m leaving the following review in several places and the baseline take-away is READ THIS BOOK!
Continue reading “Mark Hayes’ Passing Place: Location Relative

Great Opening Lines – and Why! (Oct 2021’s Great Opening Lines)

I wrote in Great Opening Lines – and Why! (Part 3 – Some Great Opening Lines) that I’d share more great opening lines as I found them.

It’s been eight months since I posted some great opening lines. It’s been a while and it was worth it to find this gem; Mark Hayes’ Passing Place.

“The Greyhound pulled away into the thunderous summer storm, leaving in its wake a dishevelled, world-weary figure in the dark, deserted bus station.” – Mark Hayes’ Passing Place

Scene, tone, atmosphere, mood, setting, and character in twenty-four words.

Continue reading “Great Opening Lines – and Why! (Oct 2021’s Great Opening Lines)”

Why It Works for Me – Mark Hayes’ “The Strange and the Wonderful”

The Why It Works for Me series are my opportunity to share with others particular pieces of writing which stand out (to me) and why (as in “this piece of writing taught me something about writing, encouraged me to be a better writer, engaged me, captivated me, educated me, …”).

As I’ve written elsewhere, it’s one thing to know something is good, it’s a better thing (in my opinion) to know why it’s good and then be able to copy what’s good about it, to learn from it so you can be as good and (hopefully) better.

This time out, Mark Hayes’ “The Strange and the Wonderful” in Harvey Duckman Presents Volume 7.